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Another victory for state lawyers in the Court of Appeal

08-04-2021

Les avocats et notaires de l'État québécois (LANEQ) had walked out for four months, in 2016 and 2017, as part of a difficult negotiation to renew their collective agreement with the Quebec government.

 

Les avocats et notaires de l'État québécois (LANEQ) has just won another victory, while the Court of Appeal upheld the judgment of the Superior Court which had invalidated the special law forcing their return to work, at the end of a long strike in 2017.

 

The president of the Treasury Board at the time, Pierre Moreau, had ended the strike with a special law, which had forced the return to work of state lawyers, under threat of heavy fines. The special law also prohibited them from going on strike for three years. It also provided for a mechanism for the continuation of negotiations and, in the absence of an agreement, working conditions had to be imposed.

 

LANEQ had challenged the constitutionality of the special law and had won the case before the Superior Court in September 2019.

 

The judge had determined that the special law constituted a "substantial obstacle to freedom of association" and that its justification had not been demonstrated.

 

The Court of Appeal has now confirmed this judgment of the Superior Court.

 

"What the two courts are saying is that our constitutional right, which includes the right to negotiate and to strike, has been violated by the government and that the law in question constitutes an obstacle to our right to negotiate," Mr. Marc Dion, President of LANEQ, summarized in an interview with The Canadian Press, Thursday.

 

LANEQ, however, had not succeeded in convincing the Superior Court to impose the establishment of a genuine dispute settlement mechanism. The judge felt that it was up to the parties to negotiate this between them.

 

"There is nevertheless a very strong moral weight of the Court of Appeal," noted Mr. Dion.

 

“We are satisfied that the Court of Appeal confirmed the decision of' the Superior Court. It's a long journey. It takes a lot of patience; it takes a lot of energy, but lawyers and notaries are determined,” he concluded.

 

The issues at the time were about pay parity with criminal and penal prosecuting attorneys, as well as a dispute resolution mechanism that would be binding on the parties.

 

Mr. Dion emphasized that even today, the parties have still not settled the collective agreement for 2015-2020, while it must negotiate that of 2020-2023.

 

"We are still in discussions, yes still, with the Treasury Board to try to set up, in fact, a new negotiation regime for Les avocats et notaires de l'État québécois, even if the Coalition Avenir Québec had made a commitment on the eve of the election campaign, in 2018, to reform our negotiation process," said Mr. Dion.

 

https://www.lapresse.ca/actualites/justice-et-faits-divers/2021-04-08/loi-speciale-pour-un-retour-au-travail/autre-victoire-des-juristes-de-l-etat-en-cour-d-appel.php