New ‘Lemon Law’ and Right-to-Repair Legislation Bolster Consumer Rights in Quebec
The Canadian province of Quebec has taken a significant step in consumer protection with the introduction of a groundbreaking “lemon law” and right-to-repair legislation, making its residents among the best-protected consumers in North America. This new regulation passed unanimously in the Quebec National Assembly, has been in effect since October 5, 2023, and is part of a comprehensive package of measures aimed at combating planned obsolescence and promoting the durability, repairability, and maintenance of consumer goods.
Quebec’s lemon law offers unprecedented protection to buyers of new vehicles. Under the law, if a new vehicle experiences three unsuccessful repair attempts within three years or 60,000 kilometers (whichever comes first), consumers can seek remedies through the courts. Options include the cancellation of the sale, a price reduction, or a repurchase by the manufacturer. This provision is directed at addressing “seriously defective vehicles.”
Notably, Quebec is the first jurisdiction in North America, apart from France, to ban the sale of consumer products intentionally designed with “obsolescence programmée” or planned obsolescence. The legislation marks a significant milestone in the fight against products deliberately designed to have a limited lifespan.
George Iny, President of the Automobile Protection Association (APA), lauded the legislation, calling it revolutionary for consumers and positioning Quebec uniquely in North America.
The new law shifts the burden of proof in favor of consumers. A “seriously defective vehicle” is defined based on specific criteria:
— National Post (@nationalpost) October 19, 2023
- Affected by a defect (always the same one) that the dealer/manufacturer has unsuccessfully attempted to repair three times under the base warranty (free of charge).
- Affected by several (unrelated) defects which the dealer/manufacturer has unsuccessfully attempted to repair 12 times under the base warranty.
- Affected by a defect (always the same one) that the dealer/manufacturer has attempted to repair “once or twice” under the conventional warranty, with such attempts necessitating the dealership to retain the vehicle for over 30 days.
- Affected by a defect(s) that renders “the automobile unfit for the use for which it is normally intended or substantially diminishes its usefulness.”
- These defects must occur within three years of the vehicle’s first sale or long-term lease when new, with a maximum of 60,000 kilometers.
The Quebec Consumer Protection Act now includes these provisions, adding layers of protection for consumers, especially in the automotive sector, which consistently ranks high in consumer complaints.
Furthermore, the law includes provisions for higher fines and new administrative penalties for merchants who do not comply with the Consumer Protection Act. These penalties will double for repeat violations.
Beginning in October 2025, the legislation will take an even stronger stance against manufacturers that make vehicles intentionally difficult to repair. Article 227.0.3 introduces penalties for manufacturers who engineer complex techniques that obstruct access to vehicle data for diagnostic, maintenance, or repair purposes. Violators could face fines of up to five percent of their worldwide revenue for the preceding fiscal year.
Quebec’s new legislation is a significant milestone in the ongoing effort to protect consumers’ rights and ensure that products, particularly vehicles, are built to last and can be effectively repaired.