Do Quebec Franchise Agreements Have to Be in French?

Quebec brings with it some special considerations for franchisees, and one of them is language. In Quebec, there is a provincial legislation that states the province's official language is French and details those fundamental language rights. As the preamble of that legislation states, this was passed to make French the primary language of the law, government and other areas, such as business and commerce. As such, the laws require French to be used in many business areas, and this has meant that many businesses translate documents that were originally in English into French for use in Quebec.


An exemption for English


There are some exceptions to the French-language legislation when it comes to the agreements entered into by franchisees and franchisors. Many times, an "English" franchise will look for franchisee prospects who are fluent in English as well. The parties to the franchise agreement--and other types of agreements--can state that they want to have the contract entered just in English.


To properly state and indicate that this is the intention of the franchisee and franchisor, a special bilingual clause (in English and French) is usually added to the franchise agreement, one that generally states the agreement and other related documents will be executed, draw up and delivered in English in both languages.


Naturally, this exemption is beneficial to many franchisors. The clause inclusion allows them to have the contract and other documents written in English. The key here is that the other documents need to be referenced as well; otherwise, it will only relate to the agreement.


The other side of the coin


Although the exemption is simple enough, there are other concerns at play. A majority of the population in Quebec speaks only French or prefers it over English. Therefore, some franchisors elect to have their franchise agreement and other documents translated to French before signing. Others have two different versions of the same agreement available--one in English and one in French. This requires careful translating to ensure the translation is proper. Since there can be some inconsistency between them, there is often a clause that states any inconsistencies between both versions will be decided by the governing form, which will be designated as the French or English version.


Different provinces have different rules and laws that can impact a franchise. As a prospective franchisee, make sure you are aware of what provincial laws can affect your potential franchise.