Quebec Bar: What not to Study

Time is precious and the Bar Exam is quickly approaching, so what can you avoid studying to focus on the essentials? If you’re looking for a long list of subjects which are never on the exam, unfortunately you’re out of luck. The Barreau du Québec chooses new questions every year which span much of the material covered. For example, although one year, all of the hypothecs questions may revolve around construction liens, the next year, this subject may not be touched on at all. Yet, there is one general rule: only answers based on laws contained in the codes allowed during the exam are exam material. What do I mean by this? Well, take business law for example. Although there are many questions in the annexes on tax issues, these answers are based on information contained in the different tax statutes such as the Income Tax Act. However, the Income Tax Act is not contained within the codes which you take with you to write the Bar Exams. Consequently, it would be impossible for you to back-up your answer with a section from that Act. Therefore, there can be no questions on the exam in that regard. But, let’s be clear. This doesn’t mean that if something is not explicitly contained in the law that there cannot be any questions on it. For example, there is often a question on the Bar Exam to calculate dividends. As per an 1897 decision, a class of shares which has fixed percentage dividends is presumed to also have cumulative dividends (dividends which still remain payable even if they were not paid in a previous year).

There is one general rule: only answers based on laws contained in the codes allowed on the exam are exam material.

Moreover, be mindful that even if a subject is not covered in the annexes or in class that it may still come up on the Bar Exam. For example, in business law, the annexes don’t really address amalgamations, however there was a question on the Bar Exam about whether an updating declaration was required in the context of a long-form amalgamation where the new company maintained one of the old names. Hint, section 284 para. 2 Q.B.C.A. establishes that it is not necessary to file the declaration with respect to the corporation’s name if it keeps the name of one of the initial amalgamating corporations.

Nonetheless, there are a number of subjects which are covered in past exams, but are no longer exam material. These include:

  • Bankruptcy (Business Law),
  • Tax (Business Law),
  • Estates (Civil I: Family, Persons, Civil Liability),
  • Municipal taxation (Administrative, Labour).

Comments on the different past exams may be found at Quebec Bar Past Exams. The unfortunate rule is that anything covered by one of the exam topics which is related to the actual legal text for that subject is potential exam material. When in doubt, study it. Also be mindful of your professor telling you something is never on the exam (with the exception of tax law) as there have been numerous instances where they have been totally mistaken in this regard. And a big thank you to all of the users of this site. It has received more than 40,000 page views this last year!!!

(Qu’est ce que vous pouvez sauter lors de votre étude? La réponse est simple, toute matière dans un sujet est matière potentielle à l’examen du Barreau du Québec. Cependant, si la matière n’est pas dans vos codes, il ne peut pas avoir de questions la-dessus, car il serait impossible de motiver vos réponses. C’est le cas par exemple pour toute question de nature fiscale.)

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