General meeting of virtual co-owners will be permitted

April 27, 2020 - Virtual general meetings of co-owners are permitted until further notice, due to the coronavirus crisis (COVID-19). The Minister of Health and Social Services, Danielle McCann, has just announced this by ministerial order. This authorization will calm concerns expressed by several syndicates of co-owners, who see their operations paralyzed, because only in-person meetings of co-owners are permitted by the Civil Code of Quebec.

This order states the following: “That any meeting, sitting or assembly that is held in person, including that of a deliberative body, may be held by a means that allows all members to communicate immediately with each other; where the law provides that a meeting must be public, it shall be made public as soon as possible by any means that allows the public to know the substance of the discussions among the participants and the result of the deliberations of the members.”

“When a secret ballot is required, it may be held by any means of communication agreed upon by all persons entitled to vote or, failing that, by any means which both enables the votes to be collected in such a way that they may subsequently be verified and preserves the secrecy of the vote.”

Some Relief

This news comes as a breath of fresh air, as general meetings will be held thanks to several computer tools available, such as Zoom, Skype and Face Time. Co-ownership lawyers approve of this decision because it will allow an administrative breakthrough for several syndicates of co-owners.

However, this authorization will only be valid for a certain period, until the coronavirus pandemic is over. It is not a permanent legislative change. For now, at least. Another more formal intervention by the legislator will be required, to make these virtual meetings permissible from now on.

That being said, this measure is certainly a welcome, in the short term, “it will not solve all the problems experienced in large co-ownerships, namely to put in place tools to allow the holding of these virtual meetings," say lawyers emeritus Yves Papineau and Yves Joli-Coeur, as well as notary emeritus Christine Gagnon.

By François G. Cellier for

Montreal, April 27, 2020