Quebec Bar Short Answer Cardinal Rules
Analyzed through a business law bar question
Let’s start with the Golden Rule. It isn’t “do unto others as you would have then do unto you”, rather it’s about how many articles to cite along with your answer. When answering a question, cite one article; if you must, cite two; but never cite three or more.
For the short answer questions (or long answer questions, however you want to call them), you are normally asked to answer the question, explain your answer, and then justify it (expliquer et motiver votre réponse). Don’t be deceived by the large number of lines which they provide for you to answer the question. You need to get to the point quickly. Your answer should start with a yes or a no, then be followed by a one sentence simple explanation, and then the relevant article (or if you must two articles). I should add that past exams often don’t ask for the answer to be explained, but current exams do, so start practicing! Also, don’t be afraid of blank space. If you answer the question right, there should be lots of it.
The golden rule: Cite one article; if you must, cite two; but never cite three or more.
The Quebec Bar Exam is about taking risks. You need to take a position in your answers and stick to it. If you are not sure between two answers, you can’t answer in the law school style where you include enough of both to scrape half marks either way. This simply doesn’t work for the bar exam. If you straddle the answer or if you try to throw something in to explain yourself a bit more, expect to get zero on the question. The Quebec Bar doesn’t believe in partial marks, so you need to pick one of your options and stick to it. It’s your best chance to get your points. More often than not, if you give too much, you get zero on the question.
So, let’s take a business law question as an example. Under the Quebec Business Corporations Act (Q.B.C.A. or L.s.a.Q.), two companies are completing a long-form amalgamation (fusion ordinaire) and the product will bear the name of one of the initial companies. Does a new declaration need to be sent to the Quebec Registrar regarding the name of the product company? Now, your first reaction may very well be: but we didn’t touch on amalgamation in Bar School. Tough luck, that’s no reason for it not to be on the exam. Remember, merely doing the provided annexes is insufficient since many of the questions asked are totally outside of the subjects touched in class.
Once you got over that first reaction, you need to try to find the relevant articles in the Q.B.C.A. Unfortunately, the business law code indexes are grossly insufficient and may not be very helpful. This is why, you want to try to complete these whenever you get an answer not found in them. So, here we see the entry for “Amalgamation of corporations” under the index. All that it does is point us towards the relevant articles for amalgamations, but nothing more than that. Count your blessings that there even is an entry for the Q.B.C.A., notice that there is nothing for the Canadian Business Corporations Act (nor is there anything for it under the entry for “merger”).
So, we then need to search through articles 276 to 287 for something relevant. Hopefully, you’ll come across article 284 paragraph 2 which states: “In the case of a long-form amalgamation, the articles must be filed with the documents required under section 8. However, the declaration required under that section with respect to the name chosen is not necessary if the amalgamated corporation keeps the name of one of the amalgamating corporations.”
Now, knowing the answer, how do you write it to collect your points for your hard work? We start with answering the question directly and writing “No, the declaration regarding the name is not required”. Then, we add the explanation. There is no reason to reinvent the wheel, simply copy or summarize the text contained in the relevant article. As such we add: “… since the amalgamated corporation is keeping the name of one of the amalgamating corporations.” We then conclude with “Article 284 paragraph 2 Q.B.C.A.” Nothing fancy is added. It gets straight to the point.
So, putting the question and the answer next to each other, we get:
Question: Under the Quebec Business Corporations Act, two companies are completing a long-form amalgamation and the product will bear the name of one of the initial companies. Does a new declaration need to be sent to the Quebec Registrar regarding the name of the product company?
Full-point answer: No, the declaration regarding the name is not required since the amalgamated corporation is keeping the name of one of the amalgamating corporations. Article 284 para. 2 Q.B.C.A. (or in French: art. 284 al. 2 L.s.a.Q.)
(La règle d’or des questions à court développement de l’examen du Barreau du Québec : « citez un article; si absolument nécessaire, citez deux articles; mais, jamais ne citez trois articles ou plus. » N’ayez qu’une seule position dans vos réponses et n’essayez pas d’avoir une réponse qui chevauche le « oui » et le « non » : ce genre de réponse reçoit 0. Afin de trouver la bonne réponse, cherchez dans l’index de ton Code et essayez de trouver le piège dans la question. Finalement, la forme de votre réponse est très importante. Si vous écrivez trop, vous recevez 0. La réponse ne doit jamais contenir plus que deux phrases : la réponse comme telle, une explication d’une phrase et l’article pertinent.)