Is an electronic signature on an original judicial proceeding valid?
Par Sarah D. Pinsonnault, avocate
By Sarah D.
Grandpré Joli-Coeur s.e.n.c.r.l./LLP
In the recent decision Roussel vs Desjardins
Sécurité financière, compagnie d’assurance-vie
(2012 QCCQ 3835), the Court clerk refused the plaintiff’s
inscription for proof and hearing and the declaration made under s. 274.1 CCP
due to the fact that they bore electronic signatures as opposed to original
In her analysis, Madam Justice Lina Bond
summarized the general rules of procedure regarding the drafting of
proceedings, as well as the definition of “signature” in the Civil Code of Québec, the Code of civil procedure, the Regulation of the Court of Québec, and
the Act to establish a legal framework
for information technology. The judge concluded with the following:
« La signature, c’est une modalité permettant
d’identifier un individu, une façon d’exprimer son consentement à un acte et
d’assurer aux tiers que le signataire est bien l’auteur des documents ou de
conclut que la signature électronique d’un avocat sur une procédure est
valable et que le greffe aurait dû accepter et noter au plumitif
l’inscription et la déclaration (274.1 C.p.c.). » (our underlining)
Following which, Justice Bond writes that the
clerk possibly refused to accept the electronic signatures for fear of
potential fraud, counterfeiting, or forgery. However, she adds that lawyers are
never shielded from this potential risk and that this possibility should not
render electronic signatures invalid. Ultimately, should ever a lawyer’s
signature be forged, the latter may always contest it by means of s. 2828 CCQ.
This judgement is a very good example of how
advancements in technology are having an impact on court proceedings. As the
population becomes more and more dependant on technology to carry-out their
daily business, it could become potentially cumbersome on lawyers should the
courts remain stagnant and not keep up with the times.
To read the decision in its entirety, click here.