By Marie-Hélène Beaudoin
We previously discussed the issue that ignorance of French does not constitute cause for revocation of a judgment. In Caï c. Yang, 2013 QCCA 1009, the Court of Appeal brought a new perspective to the reasoning behing that conclusion, and added that ignorance of French does not justify tardiness in presenting a motion for revocation. According to the Court seeing that a company must be represented by a lawyer in proceedings in the Province of Quebec, one cannot plead that they ignored the contents of a judgment drafted in French when they neglected to consult a lawyer upon receiving same.
«  As a legal person, H & C Canada Inc. could not appear in court except if it was represented by a lawyer, according to subparagraph (a) of article 61 , paragraph 1 C.C.P. Had Ms. Caï, as sole representative of the company, consulted a lawyer, the appellants would have immediately learned that a legal claim had been made against the company and Ms. Caï personally and that they had been held in default. It was negligent not to have sought out legal counsel on a timely basis.
 The purpose of the formality of reception of a motion for revocation is to allow the receiving judge to dismiss, at the earliest possible stage, motions for revocation that have no chance of success on the face of the record, in particular by reason of inexcusable lateness or futility. The judge was of the view that there was no reason to excuse the late motion and the appellants have shown no grounds for disturbing the judgment.
 As a final note on this point, there is no evidence to support the allegation that Ms. Yang chose to serve documents in French upon Ms. Caï with a view to taking advantage of her inability to understand that language. […] »
In this case, the Court also considered that the Appellants had received a demand letter written in plain English and that they were therefore fully aware of the action brought against them.
Had the Appellants been only personally sued, the Court suggests that, if not a lawyer, a translator should at least have been consulted.
The decision is available here.