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Legal Information/ Legal Briefs

Legal Briefs

Until 2010, these legal briefs provide examples of judgments pertaining to everyday situations. Beginning in 2012, they deal with various topics of general interest, such as rental issues, family law, human rights, civil liability, insurance, dealings between spouses and social aid. They are intended to inform and to prevent undesirable situations.


Legal Briefs 2019

Legal brief
November - December
Preventive DetentionThis hypelink opens a PDF file in a new window.
The judge refused to release you after you appeared in court while being held in custody for an offence and you wonder whether the time you spent in custody was properly credited as part of your sentence? more
September - October
What you need to know about online purchasesThis hypelink opens a PDF file in a new window.
Online shopping is now commonplace. But is it secure? more
July - August
What is a parenting and mediation information session?This hypelink opens a PDF file in a new window.
If you are involved in a family law case that will be heard in Superior Court, your lawyer has most likely informed you of your obligation to participate in a parenting and mediation information session.

Since January 1, 2016, former spouses have the legal obligation to attend a parenting
May - June
Direct deposit mistakenly made by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)This hypelink opens a PDF file in a new window.
The use of direct deposits for government benefits has become standard practice, but it may lead to unpleasant consequences for those who do not pay close attention to the deposits they receive. 

Indeed, the increasing types of deposits (parental benefits, employment insurance benefits, tax refunds, last resort assistance benefits, credits, etc.) at the provincial and federal levels means that deposits can be made mistakenly in a taxpayer's account, giving the taxpayer access to funds to which he is not entitled. 

The consequences may be significant, if not dramatic, especially if these deposits are made mistakenly by the Canada Revenue Agency or another federal entity.

The Facts

A young man in his twenties, who has shared custody of his two children and receives last resort assistance, has a current account at a bank. The following amounts are deposited into his account on a regular basis by direct deposit: last resort assistance benefits, child assistance benefits (provincial and federal), and the solidarity tax credit.

One day, an amount of approximately $3,000 is deposited into his bank account. The only information he has is that this amount was deposited by the Canada Revenue Agency. The young man therefore thinks it's a tax refund or a retroactive adjustment of the benefits he receives from the federal government. In the following days, he withdraws the entire amount in order to pay off some debts and have his vehicle repaired.

A few months later, while trying to pay for groceries with his debit card, he is unable to do so because no funds are available. He quickly contacts his bank, which informs him that not only has the Canada Revenue Agency seized his bank account, but all the money that was in the account, i.e. approximately $1,500, was transferred to the Canada Revenue Agency. The money is his bank account consisted of his last resort assistance benefits and his child assistance benefits.

The Powers of the Canada Revenue Agency

The CRA had mistakenly deposited the amount of $3,000 in the young man's bank account. Since the amount was paid mistakenly, the CRA had the power to recover it, because it was an unwarranted payment that constituted a debt due to Her Majesty.

The CRA does not have to provide any justification, nor does it have to notify the tax debtor before taking action. No authorization is required and, unlike the garnishmentswe usually see, the Income Tax Act does not provide for a prior notice to the debtor.

In fact, section 224 of the Income Tax Act allows the CRA to require, in writing, that a financial institution pay all or part of the funds it holds to the Receiver General. This procedure, commonly referred to as a requirement to pay, does not require any court proceedings, and the CRA is not obliged to give a prior notice to the taxpayer before seizing his bank accounts.

Furthermore, property that is unseizable under provincial legislation is not protected from this type of garnishment. Therefore, although last resort assistance benefits are unseizable, the seizure of these amounts by means of a requirement to pay (seizure of a bank account) and their payment to the Receiver General for Canada cannot be opposed under the laws of Québec.

In short, it is the responsibility of those who receive funds in their bank account via direct deposit to ensure that these funds belong to them, especially when the funds are deposited by a federal entity.

To find the contact information for your legal aid office, please visit our website at www.csj.qc.ca.

Legal brief *
May - June  2019
Number  05
Text prepared by   Me Simon Delisle-Beaulieu
* The information set out in this document is not a legal interpretation.
The masculine is used to designate persons solely in order to simplify the text.
April 2019
Labor standards, the 2018-2019 reformThis hypelink opens a PDF file in a new window.
In June 2018 and, more recently, January 2019, the Act respecting labour standards, which governs and protects certain Québec workers who are not covered by a collective agreement, was amended and enhanced. It is important to note, however, that certain categories of persons, incl more
My child wants to live with me: ca he choose?This hypelink opens a PDF file in a new window.
You and the father or mother of your child are separated and you cannot agree on how much time he will spend with each of you.

The courts issue many judgments dealing with this issue, and each decision must be made in the interests of the child and while respecting his rights.

On this
The right to a lawyerThis hypelink opens a PDF file in a new window.
The presumption of innocence: It is a fundamental principle of the Canadian justice system pursuant to which an accused is presumed innocent until proof to the contrary, that is, until the person admits their guilt or, at trial, the prosecution shows their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Inheritances and last resort financial assistance benefitsThis hypelink opens a PDF file in a new window.
“My mother died and left me an inheritance of $100,000 in money and property. Do I have to declare this to my agent? more
© Commission des services juridiques Création: Diane Laurin - 2017