7.3: Summary Judgment (Application and decision)

Case Summary

The Defendant applied for Summary Judgment on the basis that the Plaintiff’s claims were statute-barred under section 3 of the Limitations Act RSA 2000, c L-12. There were a number of overlapping claims between the parties relating to derivative actions and improper management of various corporations. The limitations argument was rejected and the Summary Judgment Application was dismissed. The Defendant appealed.

The Court of Appeal reviewed the law relating to Summary Judgment citing Hryniak v Mauldin, 2014 SCC 7 (CanLII), Windsor v Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd, 2014 ABCA 108 (CanLII) and 776826 Alberta Ltd v Ostrowercha, 2015 ABCA 49 (CanLII). The Court of Appeal noted that a court may grant Summary Judgment to a Defendant when there is “no merit” to a Claim. The Court of Appeal also observed that, despite the recent changes to the Summary Judgment standard since Hryniak, a Court must still consider whether there is “no genuine issue for trial”. The Court of Appeal also went on to note that there will be no genuine issue for Trial where a Judge is able to reach a fair and just determination on the merits in a motion for Summary Judgment. This will be possible only where the process allows a Judge to make the necessary findings of fact, apply the law to the facts and where the process is “proportionate” and a more expeditious and a less expensive means to achieve a just result.

The Court of Appeal also surveyed the applicable standard of review from a Summary Judgment decision. The Court of Appeal noted that the decision whether to grant or deny Summary Judgment ought to be afforded deference. Accordingly, the standard of review for determinations of fact, the application of the law to those facts and the ultimate decision to grant or deny Summary Judgment is all reviewed for “palpable and overriding error”.

The Appeal was dismissed, as the limitations question remained a live issue requiring a Trial.

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