On October 3, 2023, the National Assembly of Quebec adopted Bill 29, An Act to protect consumers from planned obsolescence and to promote the durability, repairability and maintenance of goods (Act), which introduces important amendments to the Quebec Consumer Protection Act (CPA). The Act was tabled on June 1, 2023 and made its way through the legislative process relatively quickly. For additional background, please consult our Blakes Bulletin: Quebec Tables Bill on Planned Obsolescence and Right to Repair.
While the final text of the Act has not yet been published, we understand the restrictions and obligations it imposes are substantially similar to those proposed in Bill 29. These restrictions and obligations are as follows:
Planned Obsolescence. The Act makes it a prohibited practice to use planned obsolescence techniques, meaning techniques that would reduce the normal operating life of a good. The Act prohibits any person from manufacturing or offering goods to a consumer for which obsolescence is planned, whether through sale or lease.
Good Working Order Warranty. The Act introduces a new warranty of good working order for certain prescribed goods, which include many household appliances and consumer electronics. Future regulation will set the duration of the warranty. Manufacturers and merchants must also disclose certain information relating to the warranty to consumers.
Replacement Parts and Repair Services Warranty. The Act builds on the CPA’s existing warranty relating to the availability of replacement parts and repair services. It introduces an obligation to provide the consumer with information (in French) required to perform maintenance or repairs, including any necessary diagnostic software. Merchants and manufacturers could limit the application of these obligations by giving written notice to consumers they do not offer replacement parts, repair services or information necessary to repair the good prior to the sale or lease of a good. Merchants and manufacturers must not, subject to regulations, use a technique that makes it more difficult to maintain or repair goods and are also required to make these parts, services and information available at a reasonable price.
Technical or Manufacturing Standards. The Act empowers the Government of Quebec to make regulations determining technical or manufacturing standards for goods, including standards for ensuring interoperability between goods and chargers.
Vehicles. The Act also introduces measures relevant to manufacturers and sellers of automobiles. It includes measures intended to protect consumers against “seriously defective” motor vehicles, including the right for consumers to request cancellation of a contract or a reduction of the price paid. Automobile manufacturers must make the vehicle’s data available to the consumer or repairer of the automobile for the purposes of diagnostic, maintenance or repair.
Enforcement. The Act builds on the CPA’s existing enforcement mechanisms, which include a private right of action. It introduces an administrative monetary penalty framework and amended penal provisions. Notably, during the legislative process, the maximum fine for committing certain offences was increased to 5% of worldwide turnover for the preceding fiscal year. Moreover, if an entity commits an offence, its directors and officers are presumed to have committed the offence. A due diligence defence is, however, available in such cases.
Some provisions, including the provision prohibiting planned obsolescence, came into force on October 5, 2023 (the date on which the Act received assent). Other provisions will come into force in stages over the next three years.
While there is limited guidance available on the scope of these new provisions, they are likely to place a substantial burden on sellers of certain consumer goods into Quebec. As such, companies that sell or manufacture goods for Quebec consumers should carefully review the provisions of the Act and monitor any regulations the government may adopt with a view to ensuring their business practices remain compliant.
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