campbell J

7.3: Summary Judgment (Application and decision)

Case Summary

The parties disagreed whether a road was a public highway and, as such, should be maintained by one of the Defendants, the County of Lethbridge. The Plaintiffs were farmers that used the road to access part of their land with farm equipment. They relied on an agreement between the County and previous owners of the land, which granted the County an easement along the road. The Defendants brought an Application for Summary Dismissal, arguing that the Plaintiffs’ claim had no merit. The Plaintiffs cross-applied for Summary Judgment, and argued that the existing evidence established their case. The parties agreed that the facts were not in issue, but disagreed over how the law applied to the facts.

The Court reviewed the current state of the law on Summary Judgment and confirmed that the Court may grant Summary Dismissal or Summary Judgment where, on the existing record, a disposition is fair and just to both parties. Granting Summary Judgment is suitable where the “moving party” establishes that there is no merit to the other party’s position. The Court must evaluate whether there is any issue of merit that genuinely requires a Trial, or whether the Claim or Defence is “so compelling that the likelihood it will succeed is very high such that it should be determined summarily”. Justice Campbell noted that it would be inappropriate to grant Summary Judgment where the Court must weigh the evidence.

Campbell J. then reviewed the evidence pertaining to the road, and found that there was enough to make a fair disposition. The Court held that a proper review of the evidence supported the conclusion that the road was not a public highway. The Action was summarily dismissed.

View CanLII Details