Public Officer

What is a public officer?

In a government context, a public officer is someone to whom the State has granted the power to draw up or keep acts recognized as authentic or to attest to the authenticity of a copy of an act.

A document or information whose authority or provenance cannot be called into question is said to be "authentic".

Is being a public officer an honorary title?

No. Although public officers are administrators and they assume the administrative duties entrusted to them, a public officer also assumes juridical or legal responsibilities related to the public office entrusted to them by the State when they were appointed to that position.

Public officers are appointed by a minister, and their mandate is governed by legislation. In addition, they must keep a public register in which information provided for by legislation is filed and disseminated.

Public officers must not be confused with court clerks, notaries, bailiffs or surveyors, who are also public officers, but do not assume public office.

How many public officers are there in Québec?

There are four public officers in Québec:

  • the registrar of civil status;
  • the enterprise registrar;
  • the Land Registrar:
  • the Personal and Movable Real Rights Registrar.

Do public officers have special powers?

Acts drawn up, or copies of acts authenticated, by public officers enable persons and businesses to exercise their rights. For example, by means of the child's act of birth, a parent is able to register for the Québec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP), and obtain the Family Allowance (Retraite Québec) as well as the Canada Child Benefit (Canada Revenue Agency).

It is an important power, which grants public officers great responsibility as regards the quality, integrity, security and sustainability of the register they administer.

That is why the legislation governing the role of public officers contains special provisions.

What special provisions apply to the registrar of civil status?

The Civil Code of Québec contains certain provisions specific to the registrar of civil status.

For example:

  • The registrar may designate one or more members of his personnel to replace him temporarily and delegate certain of his functions to his personnel. If that should occur, the acts of designation or delegation must be made in writing and published in the Gazette officielle du Québec.
  • Except in a few cases provided for under the Civil Code of Québec, only the court may order the rectification of an act of civil status or its insertion in the register, as well as review any decision of the registrar relating to an act of civil status.
  • The register of civil status may be consulted only with the authorization of the registrar. Where the registrar allows the register to be consulted, he determines the conditions required for the safeguard of the information it contains.

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Reviewed: 2020-06-15


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