The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that Quebec’s Minister of Employment and Social Solidarity had the right to employ a non-lawyer to prepare and sign written proceedings in social aid cases before a tribunal.
In Barreau du Québec v. Quebec (Attorney General), the majority of the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal of the Barreau du Québec against the Attorney General of Quebec. The appeal concerned two social welfare cases for which the Minister of Employment and Social Solidarity had applied for a review of decisions rendered by the Administrative Tribunal of Québec, and presented motions for review that had been prepared, drawn up, signed and filed by someone who was not a member of the bar.
In both cases, the individuals in question brought a motion to dismiss on the ground that the minister’s written proceedings had not been prepared and drawn up by a member of the Quebec bar, pursuant to an Act respecting the Barreau du Québec. Section 128 of the act provides that certain activities, including preparing and drawing up motions and other written proceedings, are the “exclusive prerogative” of advocates and solicitors, notably “plead[ing] or act[ing]” before courts or tribunals.