1. Learn about what you get

Can I have my civil trial in French?
This question has an answer and 4 steps
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1. Learn about what you get

If you exercise your French language rights under the French Language Services Act and Courts of Justice Act, you have the right to bilingual proceedings.

This means:

  • You have the right to a judge who speaks French and English.
  • You can ask for French court interpreters for witnesses, parties, and lawyers who only speak English or French and not both.
  • All the evidence and submissions in French or English are received, recorded, and transcribed in the language given. But, you can ask for and get translations of documents used in a bilingual proceeding at the Family Court of the Superior Court of Justice, the Ontario Court of Justice, or the Small Claims Court.
  • The judge decides whether to write their decision and reasons in French or English. But, you can ask for and get a translation of the decision if you or your lawyer only speak English or French and not both.

Your right to bilingual proceedings also applies to other hearings in your case, like motions, pre-trials, and conferences, unless you ask otherwise.

Other rights

Your right to file documents in French depends on the type of proceeding, court location in Ontario, and level of court. For example:

  • Civil matters at the SCJ: you can file pleadings and other documents in French for:
    • civil SCJ proceedings that are held as bilingual proceedings in designated areas
    • civil SCJ proceedings that are held as bilingual proceedings in other areas of Ontario where the parties agree
  • Small Claims Court: you can file documents in French anywhere in Ontario.
  • Family law matters at the OCJ or Family Court of the SCJ: you can file documents in French anywhere in Ontario.
  • Family law matters in the SCJ where there is not Family Court of the SCJ:
    • bilingual proceedings in designated areas
    • bilingual proceedings in other areas of Ontario where the parties agree

Your right to have translations of certain documents also depends on the type of proceeding, court location in Ontario, and level of court. For example:

  • Reasons for decision: for all bilingual proceedings, at the request of a party or lawyer who speak only French or English and not both
  • Documents filed with the court: for all proceedings before the Family Court of the SCJ, the OCJ, and the SCC, at the request of a party

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Ministry of the Attorney General
Reviewed: November 26, 2018

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