7.3: Summary Judgment (Application and decision)

Case Summary

This matter dealt with the issue of whether parties who had made complaints to the Law Society of Alberta have standing to seek judicial review of the Law Society Conduct Committee’s decision to dismiss their complaints. The Law Society had sought Summary Judgment of the matter, arguing that Warman and the other complainant did not have standing. The Court of Queen’s Bench did not grant the Law Society’s Application for Summary Judgment. The Law Society appealed that Decision. On Appeal, the majority of the panel, Justices Picard and Costigan, upheld the Court of Queen’s Bench decision to dismiss the Application for Summary Judgment. The majority determined that Warman and the other complainant’s position had sufficient merit, and that both the law and the facts on this matter were arguable by both parties. The majority also stated that, while the modern application of Summary Judgment is to determine the matter in a way that is fair and just to both parties, the intent of Summary Judgment is not to prevent new arguments on unsettled law from being heard.

The dissenting decision by Wakeling J.A. concluded that Summary Judgment should have been granted in this case. Wakeling J.A. stated that Summary Judgment is a tool for speedy resolution of meritless positions, and the purpose and effect of Summary Judgment is the dismissal of a party’s claim if it is highly likely that the Applicant’s position will prevail. Wakeling J.A. stated that, under the Legal Profession Act, RSA 2000, c L-8, a party who makes a complaint about the conduct of a member of the Law Society is not a party to the proceedings that follow, despite the fact that their complaint initiated the proceedings. Wakeling J.A. determined that the Law Society’s likelihood of success on this matter was very high, as Warman and the other complainant’s position had no merit, because they had no standing to make an Application for Judicial Review.

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