Close to 80% of Quebecers Cannot Afford to Defend Themselves in Court

AXA Assistance Canada paints a grim picture of access to justice in Quebec

MONTRÉAL, May 21, 2014 /CNW Telbec/ - According to the first Quebec Legal Barometer created for AXA Assistance Canada, 77% of Quebecers do not have the financial means to defend their legal rights. As well, 50% mistakenly believe that the opposing side in a court case will automatically pay their attorneys' legal fees if the judge finds in their favour. And 38% think they are covered by the province's Legal Aid program, when in reality only 10% are eligible.

These results were obtained through an online survey conducted by Léger from March 13 to March 17, 2014, based on a representative sample of 1004 Quebecers age 18 or older.[1] AXA Assistance is a multinational firm specializing in legal, medical, roadside and travel assistance. This is the first time AXA Assistance has produced a Quebec version of its Legal Barometer. The Legal Barometer was first produced in France in 2012.

Quebecers and the law
The survey reveals that Quebecers have only a limited understanding of the law and of court procedures, and cannot always afford to resort to a lawyer for help.

"There's a major divergence between the reality of legal costs and what Quebecers suppose them to be," says Fabien Navet, chief executive officer of AXA Assistance Canada.

The AXA Assistance Canada Legal Barometer survey also asked Quebecers about their perception and understanding of the law. The study reveals that 71% of Quebecers find laws and regulations difficult to understand, while more than 3 out of every 4 Quebecers do not believe they could defend themselves on their own in court.

Quebecers and legal disputes
More than 1 out of every 2 individuals said that they had experienced a legal dispute in their lives. However, 24% of those facing legal action do nothing about it, owing either to a lack of resources or a lack of knowledge of the system. "Their rights are potentially being set aside. This is a disturbing situation, especially in a society based on law, like ours", Fabien Navet said.

Among the wide variety of legal problems that Quebecers must deal with, the most frequent issues are those related to housing (28%), family affairs (23%), and motor vehicles (25%).

Among the legal risks that generate the most insecurity, internet transactions worry 1 out of every 2 Quebecers. Invasion of privacy is the issue that troubles them most. Where social networking is involved, 82% of the respondents said they were worried that their private lives were not being respected.

How to protect yourself
Lawyers at AXA Assistance Canada answer over 30,000 calls for legal assistance per year in Quebec in a wide range of areas, including housing, neighbourhood conflicts, consumer issues, family law, labour and succession. This range of experience very often makes it possible for them to reassure people involved in complex legal situations.

"In terms of prevention, the legal assistance that's frequently included in home insurance allows people to know their rights better. An even better way to protect yourself against liability is legal assistance, which is available at a relatively low cost. This is an effective way of facilitating access to the courts. We recommend that people visit the Quebec Bar website, which explains the advantages of legal insurance very clearly," said Fabien Navet.

About AXA Assistance Canada
As the Canadian affiliate of AXA Assistance based in Montreal since 1999, AXA Assistance Canada (www.axa-assistance.ca) provides a range of legal, medical and roadside assistance services. AXA emergency services are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, around the world.


[1] Results of the study were weighted by sex, age, region, language spoken at home, education and the presence of children in the household, using supporting data from Statistics Canada in order to make the survey sample more representative of the population as a whole.

SOURCE: AXA Assistance Canada Inc.

For further information: Marie-Hélène d'Entremont-Sauvé, Zone franche, 514-317-5715, extension 204, mhdentremont@zonefranche.ca

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AXA Assistance Canada Inc.

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