7.3: Summary Judgment (Application and decision)

Case Summary

The Defendant appealed a Master’s Decision in which Summary Judgment was granted against it. Justice Topolniski reviewed Rule 7.3 and commented that legal disputes must be resolved in the “most cost-effective and timely method available, provided the process selected ensures fairness between the parties”. Topolniski J. stated that Summary Judgment is available when there is no genuine issue of merit requiring a Trial because a fair and just disposition may be made on the existing record. This will be the case when Summary Judgment allows the Court to make findings of fact; allows the application of the law to the facts; and is a proportionate, expeditious and cost-effective means to achieve a just result. A case has “no merit” if the moving party’s position is “so compelling that the likelihood of success is very high”, or in other words, a non-moving party's case will only have merit when there is a genuine issue of a “potentially decisive material fact” that “cannot be summarily found against the non-moving party on the record”. The non-moving party’s mere assertion of a position or the hope that evidence will turn up at Trial does not suffice. Ultimately, the key is whether viva voce evidence is required to properly resolve the case.

Topolniski J. held that the Master correctly concluded that the matter may be fairly and justly decided on the existing record by way of Summary Judgment. The Plaintiff’s position was so compelling that the likelihood of its success was very high, and the Defendant’s case was unmeritorious because there was no genuine issue of a potentially decisive material fact. The Defendant’s Appeal was dismissed.

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