7.5: Application for judgment by way of summary trial
7.6: Response to application
7.8: Objection to application for judgment by way of summary trial
7.9: Decision after summary trial

Case Summary

The Plaintiffs commenced an Action against the Defendants claiming, amongst other things, breach of contract. The Defendants counterclaimed and filed an Application for Summary Trial seeking dismissal of part of the Action against them. One of the Plaintiffs responded with an Objection to the Summary Trial. Justice Poelman, in considering the Rules governing Summary Trials, confirmed that prior case law was still relevant. Based on earlier authorities, Justice Poelman opined that a party is presumptively entitled to a Summary Trial and an Objection to a Summary Trial may be ruled on before or at the Hearing. The issue for consideration was whether the Claim was “suitable” for Summary Trial and whether a Summary Trial would “facilitate resolution of the Claim or a part of it”. Justice Poelman observed that the suitability requirements were flexible and that a broad range of factors should be considered. His Lordship noted that Summary Trial was not precluded even where evidence was conflicting or where findings of credibility and reliability were necessary; however, there must be a factual context which the Court could use in order to prefer one party’s evidence over the other.

Justice Poelman noted that the Justice hearing the Summary Trial still has the ability, pursuant to Rule 7.9, to dismiss the Application in the event that the Objection to Summary Trial is dismissed before the Hearing. In addition, Rule 7.9(2) requires that Judgment be given unless it would be unjust to decide the issues on a Summary Trial. Justice Poelman differentiated the word “unjust” in Rule 7.9 from the word “suitable” in Rules 7.5 and 7.8.

… If the difference in words is to mean anything, perhaps there is a higher onus on a judge to make a ruling after the full summary trial has been heard.

Justice Poelman upheld the Objection to Summary Trial, expressing concerns about the risk of limiting judicial independence or creating contradictory findings in two separate proceedings.

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