1.2: Purpose and intention of these rules
7.1: Application to resolve particular questions or issues

Case Summary

The Defendant appealed an Order splitting up a medical malpractice Action into two Trials, one for Liability and one for Quantum. In Chambers the Plaintiff was successful in obtaining an Order splitting these issues. The Court noted that the Chambers Justice and the Plaintiff relied heavily on Envision Edmonton Opportunities Society v Edmonton (City), 2011 ABQB 29 (Envision). The Court said that the split may have been proper in Envision but that the suggestion in Envision that the new Rules, and specifically Rule 1.2, reversed all of the case law on splitting trials was incorrect. The Court noted:

… Alberta’s new Rules merely recite what everyone took for granted under the prior Rules; that speed and economy are important objectives. So that statement of the tradition is no excuse for discarding all or even big parts of Alberta precedent.

The Court also stated that Rule 1.2 could not supersede the clear criteria outlined in Rule 7.1. The Court explained that if read “mechanically and literally” Rule 7.1 offers “no criteria, only aims.” However, if Rule 7.1 is read in a purposive manner it means that a trial split must achieve the aims listed, not “thwart them”.

The Court analysed whether splitting the Trials would lead to economic savings or loss and the issue of overlapping evidence. Ultimately, the Court allowed the Appeal to set aside the severance. The Court also noted in obiter that “[t]here is much unnecessary litigation in instalments in Alberta today”, and that past case law warns that splitting issues “are a dangerous but alluring siren, often ending by wasting everyone’s time and money, not saving it”.

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