Law 96: an American company stops shipping its products to Quebec individuals
OtterBox, whose headquartered in the United States, says it will resume deliveries when it can comply with Law 96.
OtterBox sells cell phone accessories. The new provisions of Law 96 oblige it to stop shipping its products directly to consumers in Quebec, while waiting to adapt its website in French.
Quebecers who want iPhone cases from OtterBox can no longer be ordered directly from the company's website.
The Colorado-based accessory maker states on its website that due to Law 96 French language requirements, we have temporarily suspended shipments to Quebec, Canada.
OtterBox explains on its site that Law 96 requires a platform in French in all points of sale and marketing.
The company adds that it is working to comply with the law so that it can resume shipments of its products to Quebec as soon as possible, and that consumers can turn to Bureau en gros, Amazon or Apple Store to obtain its accessories. Customers can also buy them from their mobile phone provider, such as Rogers and Telus.
Otter Products spokeswoman Kianna Noonan notes that Canadian legal counsel for the recommended that they stop exporting to Quebec from their online platform during the review of the Quebec law.
We are working hard to implement solutions that would allow our shipments to resume directly to consumers in Quebec, Noonan said in an email.
“In the meantime, we recommend that consumers find OtterBox products at their retailers located in Quebec.
— Kianna Noonan, spokesperson for Otter Products
Bill 96 aims to modernize the Charter of the French language (Bill 101) and affirms that the only official language of Quebec is French. With this new law, the Government of Quebec wants to strengthen the protection of French, and certain provisions concern service in French in businesses.
Under Law 101, merchants who doing business in Quebec must offer a website in French, and consumers who feel that their language rights have been violated can file a complaint with the Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF).
With Bill 96, consumers can sue companies directly and obtain an injunction or damages if they believe their language rights are being violated.
It's really that provision , if you will, which is causing many companies to reassess the risk of doing business in Quebec, says Alexandre Fallon, partner at the law firm Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt.
According to him, some companies see no interest in reorganizing their activities to comply with Quebec law or in developing an equivalent French version of their website.
“Unfortunately, Quebec is not the largest market in the world, and the cost of developing French-language services for all of their operations can be significant. »
—Alexandre Fallon, partner at the law firm Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt
If a Quebec consumer can sue in Quebec even if the business is not established there, the judgment will have to be recognized in the defendant's jurisdiction to be enforced, Fallon said. It probably wouldn't be worth it for a simple consumer, he says, but it might be more feasible for a class action lawsuit filed against a business.
But companies located in Quebec are not too affected by Bill 96, believes Phil Kyprianou, president of the Hubbvee agency, which specializes in the development of e-commerce for companies. For him, the difficulty lies with businesses that want to enter the Quebec market.
“You will have to translate your website into French, but also provide quality customer service in French, which is not always easy. »
— Phil Kyprianou, President of Hubbvee
Especially since a customer service agent can cost up to $50,000 a year, he says.< /p>
While these issues are significant obstacles for companies outside Quebec, he also sees an opportunity for Quebec companies that already operate in French.
We've seen this in the past, big companies deciding not to move forward in the Quebec market even though they have attractive products, Kyprianou points out. But other companies are taking their place, he adds.
The office of the Minister of Justice and the French Language, Simon Jolin-Barrette, refused a request for interview on this subject, but in a declaration, he affirms that Quebecers have the right to be served and informed in their language, French.
The declaration also indicates that many international companies do business in Quebec by respecting the linguistic requirements of the Charter of the French language, and that serving Quebec customers in the official and common language can only be beneficial for companies that want to develop a market in Quebec.< /p>
Minister Jolin-Barrette's office also mentions that the OQLF is there to support businesses in their francization efforts.
With information from CBC's Simon Nakonechny