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Step 3: Motions and Summary Judgment: Why Won’t You Comply and Do We Need a Trial?

This week we will be discussing motions, and specifically focusing on motions for summary judgement.

During the pleadings and discovery phase of a civil action, there are many reasons why disagreements and stalemates arise between the parties. In many cases in order to resolve these disputes, parties may require direction from the court during these in-between steps. Direction from the court is typically obtained through applications or motions to the court. Motions occurring during these in-between steps are called interlocutory motions, and are used to provide resolution to disagreements in order to move a civil action forward. Interlocutory motions can be brought by a party to obtain relief in many situations, such as where a party has failed to meet procedural requirements, to ensure the rules of the court are followed where a party is refusing to comply, or to consolidate multiple civil actions in which similar facts/issues should be dealt with together.

Not all motions deal with the interlocutory disputes in a civil action, such as a motion for summary judgement. A motion for summary judgment is brought by a party who seeks to obtain a judgment in a civil action without a trial. While this sounds like a route most parties would seek to use, in order to be successful in obtaining a summary judgment (and settling the matter without a trial), the party who brings a motion for summary judgment must prove that there is no genuine issues requiring a trial. This is not as simple as it would appear, as the judge hearing the motion will essentially conduct a mini-trial to allow oral evidence and test the credibility of the case. Further, if the civil action involves multiple legal issues and disputes, it is possible to use a motion for summary judgment to address some but not all of these issues. Using the motion for summary judgment in this way can help solve complications in the civil action and actually speed up the resolution of a dispute.

In recent years, the Supreme Court of Canada has emphasized summary judgement as a channel through which dispute resolution and access to justice can be streamlined, as it lessens the workload of the already overburdened judicial resources. Obtaining summary judgment can also save the parties, and their representatives, time and money. For these reasons, summary judgment is an appealing route, one which more and more Ontario lawyers are utilizing in effort to deal with issues in a cost effective and timely way. Having addressed the use of interlocutory motions and the prospect of summary judgment, next week we will move onto the pre-trial phase of a civil action.

If you would like to discuss a potential civil action, our team of experienced litigators can help. Contact us online for a free legal consultation or call 705-526-1471 to speak directly with one of our lawyers.

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