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Quebec notaries warn Bill 96 translation requirement creating 2-tier system

Click to play video: 'Quebec notaries warn testaments could get lost in translation with Bill 96'
Quebec notaries warn testaments could get lost in translation with Bill 96
Some Quebec Notaries are crying foul over an article in the province's controversial new language law. Notarized documents such as wills, if drafted in another language are required to be translated to French at an additional cost to the client. “As Global's Phil Carpenter explains, the concern is that a two-tier system has been created – Oct 7, 2022

Some Quebec notaries are crying foul over an article in the province’s controversial Bill 96.

Under the bill, notarized documents such as wills, real estate documents, powers of attorney and marriage contracts, if drafted in English, are required to be translated to French for registration, at the client’s expense.

Montreal notary Francine Lewis is worried about what that will mean for her clients, not just in the city but worldwide.

She pointed to a recent case in which she said the translation fee was hundreds of dollars.

“Five hundred eighteen dollars, including taxes to have these three pages translated by the translator,” she told Global News from her Nun’s Island office. “There’s no notary fees there, there’s no registration fees yet.”

Read more: Quebec’s new language law faces one of its first challenges in front of a judge

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Heather Trott, another notary, said she checked what the translation fee for a real estate contract would be.

“For example, a 12-page document, a 12-page mortgage, just to get a sense of what the fees would be around, was close to $2,000,” she said.

She added that there will also be delays of a week or more because of translations.

Lewis noted that the situation also affects francophones who have assets in other provinces or the United States, for example, and need to produce documents in English.

Peter Zimmermann is preparing to draw up his will and pointed to what he sees as another problem with this law.

“Well, it’s my will, and I want to understand my will,” he stressed.

He worries he won’t be able to verify if a translation will convey his wishes exactly, since his French isn’t as good as his English.

This reality, say Bill 96 critics, has created a two-tier system whereby people who need these services in English are paying more.

Read more: Quebec election — Legault sorry for English content on his party’s website

“I think so,” said Eva Ludvig, president of the English rights group Quebec Community Groups Network.  “Not only pay more, wait longer, not have the equal services.”

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According to Trott, the bill is creating rifts between colleagues.

“(Supporters) are using phrases like, ‘Well, finally the public registry is not going to be as polluted by English documents anymore,'” she said.

Trott and others are considering a legal challenge to the new law.

“We are trying to kind of get together, put our heads together,” she said, “because of course if you’re going to challenge it in court, you have to have a legal basis for it.”

There are already two other court challenges to Bill 96.

Click to play video: 'Quebec’s Bill 96 sparks fears about access to health care in English'
Quebec’s Bill 96 sparks fears about access to health care in English

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