6.14: Appeal from master’s judgment or order
7.2: Application for judgment
7.3: Summary Judgment (Application and decision)

Case Summary

The Applicant appealed a Master’s decision that dismissed its Application for Summary Judgment. The Application was brought under Rule 7.2(a) based on two arguments. First, the Applicant stated that the lease agreement between the parties barred the Action brought by the Plaintiffs. Second, it argued that the Action was out of time pursuant to s. 3(1) of the Limitations Act, RSA 2000, c L-12.

The parties agreed that the standard of review under Rule 6.14(3) as set out in Bacheli v Yorkton Securities Inc, 2012 ABCA 166 applied. Harris J. summarized:

…under Rule 6.14(3), the standard of review that I am to exercise is one of correctness on issues of both fact and law. I am entitled to conduct a de novo analysis of the issues, reviewing all relevant and material evidence, submissions and the record in order to reach a decision. Deference to the Master’s decision is not required.

Harris J. contrasted the purpose of Rule 7.2(a) with that of Rule 7.3. The intent of Rule 7.2(a) is “to permit the Court to dispose of claims that have no merit based on admissions made in pleadings, affidavits and/or in cross examination.”

Harris J. cited W(O) v P(W), 2012 ABQB 252 for the proposition that “admissions must clearly show that the Action is statute-barred…failing which the summary judgment application will fail”.

Harris J. considered Hryniak v Mauldin, 2014 SCC 7, where a three-part test was set out to determine when Summary Judgment would be appropriate:

There will be no genuine issue regarding a trial when a judge is able to reach a fair and just determination on the merits on a motion for summary judgment. This will be the case when the process (1) allows the judge to make the necessary findings of fact, (2) allows the judge to apply the law to the facts, and (3) is a proportionate, more expeditious and less expensive means to achieve a just result.

Justice Harris reviewed the lease agreement and found that the lease provisions did not show a “clear and unequivocal prohibition against the Plaintiffs’ claims”. Thus, the first test for Summary Judgment was not met.

With respect to the issue of whether the Action was statute barred, Harris J. stated that “since the alleged breach was ongoing, each instance of obstruction…amounted to a new cause of action against Applicant. Therefore, any alleged breaches after May 16, 2018 were not time-barred.”

Justice Harris held that Rule 7.3 was not argued at first instance and, as a result, was not considered on Appeal. Harris J. said that the Applicant could still apply under Rule 7.3 and argue that the claim ought to be dismissed due to a lack of damages suffered by the Plaintiffs.

Harris J. found that while the Master's decision to dismiss the Application for Summary Judgment was correct, the decision to uphold the dismissal was based on different reasons. Specifically, that the Applicant had not shown that the admissions relied upon clearly established that the Claim was barred. The Application was therefore dismissed.

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