7.3: Summary Judgment (Application and decision)

Case Summary

Calgary Co-operative Association Limited (“Calgary Co-op”) sourced food, fuel and retail products from the Federated Co-operatives Limited (the “FCL”) until 2019, when it gave notice that it was switching suppliers. Calgary Co-op alleged that, after notice was delivered, FCL fundamentally changed its practices and engaged in objectionable conduct to the detriment of Calgary Co-op. It sought a finding of oppression and related remedies.

Calgary Co-op applied for Summary Judgment pursuant to Rule 7.3 on its oppression claim related to discrete issues, reserving all other concerns for Trial. The Court considered the test for Summary Judgment from Weir-Jones Technical Services Inc v Purolator Courier Ltd, 2019 ABCA 49, which requires that the Court be able to make the necessary findings of facts, apply the law to the facts, and be satisfied that Summary Judgment is a proportionate, more expeditious and less expensive means than a Trial to achieve a just result.

The Court reviewed several further principles of Summary Judgment, including that the burden lies on the Applicant to show on a balance of probabilities that there is no genuine issue requiring a Trial, and that the volume of materials alone is likely not itself a reason to reject a Summary Judgment Application, nor is complexity, an extensive record, or expense expended. The Court reiterated that Summary Judgment is particularly suited to cases where facts are not in serious dispute and the real question is how the law applies to the facts.

Justice Slawinsky also considered that this was an Application for partial Summary Judgment, which required additional consideration of whether resolving some issues would increase efficacy, despite that litigation will still proceed on other issues, and the possibility of inconsistent findings.

In considering the facts of the Application before her, Justice Slawinsky found that there were no material disputes regarding the facts, the law was settled on the issues before her, and there was a low risk of inconsistent findings. Slawinsky J. therefore found that the Application could proceed. Ultimately, Justice Slawinsky held that there was oppression, and granted Calgary Co-op’s Application for partial Summary Judgment.

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