7.3: Summary Judgment (Application and decision)

Case Summary

The Court granted the Plaintiff’s Rule 7.3 Application for Summary Judgment based on unjust enrichment.

Hollins J. commented that the Summary Judgment test under Rule 7.3 must be considered in light of Hryniak v Mauldin, 2014 SCC 7, where the Supreme Court of Canada recommended a culture shift in civil litigation allowing for the use of summary procedures where the Court is able to reach a fair and just determination on the merits of a matter with the material before it.

Hollins J. continued to comment that the Alberta test for Summary Judgment was settled in Weir-Jones Technical Services Incorporated v Purolator Courier Ltd., 2019 ABCA 49 (“Weir-Jones”). Specifically, the Court should first determine whether it is possible to make a summary determination based on the record before it and the nature of the disputes. The record before the Court must allow it to make the necessary findings of fact and apply the law to those facts. If that can be done, the Court will then move to consider whether proceeding by Summary Judgment would be the more expeditious way to achieve a just result.

Citing Weir-Jones, Hollins J. further commented that a dispute on material facts, issues of credibility, or the level of complexity of the case are all things that may render a matter inappropriate for determination by Summary Judgment.

Hollins J. cautioned against summary determination of fraudulent conduct where credibility is a live issue. However, Hollins J. did not consider that issue as the Plaintiff was not pursuing its Rule 7.3 Application based on its allegations of fraud, but unjust enrichment and knowing receipt, neither of which require a finding of fraudulent intent.

Hollins J. noted that the Plaintiff brought an Action for fraud, as well as for conversion, unjust enrichment, and knowing receipt. However, Hollins J. was satisfied that the same set of facts could be used to ground a claim for equitable relief without considering whether those same facts would constitute fraud.

Further, the agreed upon facts did not engage issues of credibility and provide a sufficient record on which to adjudicate the claims of unjust enrichment and knowing receipt. As such, Hollins J. held that the dispute may be fairly resolved based on the available record.

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