Matthew Meland

Matthew Meland

Lawyer at FFMP and founder of Sharpened.

Quebec Bar: What not to Study

by | Apr 25, 2019 | Quebec Bar | 2 comments

Matthew Meland

Matthew Meland

Lawyer at FFMP and founder of Sharpened


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. 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!!!


  1. Lea

    Hi Matthew, thanks for this resource – it’s tremendously useful. Just to clarify, in mentioning the 1897 decision which stipulates, in addition to the applicable statutory provisions, how dividends must be calculated, I take it that we must know AND apply applicable jurisprudence in answering questions on the Bar exam. Are we expected to cite the applicable decisions on the exam? Can you say how often questions involving applying jurisprudence appear on the exam? Thanks again.

    • Matthew Meland

      Hi Lea. It is the exception that case law is on the Bar Exam. I would say that there is generally no more than one case per subject which is relevant. On an exam of 20 questions, there is maybe one which involves some case law. Accordingly, I wouldn’t stress over it. Just try do the past exams and you’ll catch the case or two that is referenced occasionally. And if you do use some case law, no need to cite it. Good luck.


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