On June 1, 2023, the Government of Quebec tabled Bill 29 (Bill), an Act to protect consumers from planned obsolescence and to promote the durability, repairability and maintenance of goods, before the National Assembly of Quebec. The Bill proposes important amendments to Quebec’s existing Consumer Protection Act. If passed, the Bill will impose new restrictions, warranties and disclosure obligations on merchants and manufacturers selling goods to consumers in Quebec.
Key features of the Bill include:
Planned Obsolescence. The Bill would make it a prohibited practice to use planned obsolescence techniques, meaning techniques that would reduce the normal operating life of a good. The Bill would also make it a prohibited practice to manufacture or offer these goods to consumers, whether through sale or lease.
Good Working Order Warranty. The Bill introduces a new legal warranty for certain specified consumer goods that may not be contractually waived. The goods include, among others, refrigerators, washing machines, desktop computers, laptops and cellphones.
The sale or long-term lease of such goods would carry a legal (or implied) warranty of “good working order,” which would take effect upon delivery for a duration to be determined by regulation. The warranty would require the merchant or manufacturer to either repair the specified good themselves (also bearing reasonable shipping expenses) or allow the consumer to have a third party repair the good and bear the expense. The warranty would also extend to parts and labour but would not cover normal maintenance or damage caused by abuse. The warranty would extend to subsequent purchasers of the specified good.
Merchants and manufacturers would have the obligation to disclose information about the warranty to consumers. While regulation will prescribe the scope of such disclosures, the Bill states that merchants would be required to indicate the length of the warranty period near the sale price of the specified good and to send certain information to consumers after the transaction takes place.
Right to Repair. Merchants and manufacturers would be subject to several new obligations intended to allow consumers to repair goods more easily.
The previous obligation to provide replacement parts and repair services for a reasonable time after the transaction would be expanded by adding an obligation to provide the information required to perform maintenance or repairs, and any necessary diagnostic software. Merchants and manufacturers would also be required to make these parts and information available at a reasonable price, meaning a price that does not discourage consumers from accessing them (these prices may be determined by regulation). The parts must also be installable with commonly available tools and without causing irreversible damage to the good.
Merchants and manufacturers could limit the application of these obligations by giving written notice to consumers that they do not offer replacement parts, repair services or information necessary to repair the good prior to the sale or lease of a good. However, even where these obligations do not apply, the Bill would make it a prohibited practice for merchants and manufacturers to use any technique that would make goods more difficult to repair.
Technical or Manufacturing Standards. In addition, regulations could be adopted to determine technical or manufacturing standards for goods, including standards for ensuring interoperability between goods and chargers. Regulations could also be adopted to objectively determine observable failures to comply with the requirements of the legislation.
New AMPs. The Bill gives the Office de la protection du consommateur the power to impose administrative monetary penalties on entities that fail to comply with the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act. These penalties can be imposed on a daily basis for each day a merchant or manufacturer is in breach of the act.
Director and Officer Liability. Under the Bill, directors and officers can also be found to have committed an offence and, in the case of an entity that fails to pay a monetary administrative penalty, could be held solidarily liable for the payment. A due diligence defence is available in such cases.
The Bill also proposes several new obligations specific to the sale, lease or manufacture of automobiles.
The Bill is expected to be debated at the National Assembly, and further amendments may be proposed. If adopted, the provisions of the Bill are expected to come into force in phases over a period of three years.
The new rules, once finalized, will not have a direct impact on importations of goods into Canada because the Canada Border Services Agency generally only enforces federal restrictions on importations. However, it is expected that the changes will place a substantive burden on sellers of consumer goods into Quebec and should be closely followed by the industry.
For more information, please contact:
Marie-Hélène Constantin +1-514-982-4031
Céline Poitras +1-514-982-4131
or any member of our Consumer Protection or Technology groups.
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