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

Case Summary

The Appellant appealed the decision of a Master in Chambers to sever the trial issues of liability and quantum in a negligence case, pursuant to Rule 7.1(1). That Rule states that a Court may order an issue to be heard or tried before, at, or after a trial for the purpose of: (i) disposing of all or part of a claim; (ii) substantially shortening a trial; or (iii) saving expense (the “Prerequisites”).

In setting aside the Master’s Order for severance, the Court confirmed that only one of the Prerequisites to engaging the Rule is necessary for a severance Application to be considered, and that a Court must assess whether there is a real likelihood that one of the Prerequisites can be satisfied. The Court emphasized that splitting a trial into its component parts (as permitted by Rule 7.1) is the exception to the general rule that civil actions will proceed as a single trial.

The Court noted that, in this case, even a finding of split liability would not be captured by the prerequisite of Rule 7.1(a)(i) which requires the disposal of all or part of the claim to justify severance. In the circumstances of this case, any finding of liability by the Respondent would not have the effect of disposing all of the claim, as the quantum portion would then proceed. Similarly, a finding that the Respondent was liable at any level would not dispose of part of the claim since a finding of split liability would require a full trial on quantum.

The Court added that, where part of the consideration in applying Rule 7.1(1) is the efficient use of court resources and the concurrent saving of expense for all involved, it is important to consider the multiple appellate route that could be exposed if the litigation is bifurcated.

The Court rejected the Respondent’s argument that once at least one of the Prerequisites is found, the analysis moves on to consider Rule 1.2.

View CanLII Details