Canada: A New Departure And A Fresh Approach: The Ontario Court Of Appeal Decision In Combined Air

Last Updated: June 8 2012
Article by Peter Wells, C.S., Adrienne Boudreau and Annik Forristal

The fundamental question that the new Ontario summary judgment rule attempts to answer is neither new, nor complex. Rather, it is simple: which actions deserve or require a trial, and which can be disposed of by summary judgment? This seemingly simple question has proven exceptionally difficult to answer.

As we outline in this paper, a variety of means to resolve actions short of a trial have existed in the procedural rules of the Ontario courts for a century or more1 and were introduced into the Federal Courts Rules in 1994.2 Yet over time, and in the context of each different version of the rules, courts have struggled to articulate and maintain a consistent standard for identifying which procedure will be most just to determine the issues in a particular case. Each revised rule has followed a pattern of "interpretive erosion" in which initial wide and enthusiastic application of the summary judgment process has given way to increasingly narrow interpretation and consequent decreasing frequency of use.

The question of which actions may appropriately be resolved summarily again became the subject of debate among the Ontario civil litigation bar with the 2010 changes to Ontario's Rules of Civil Procedure. At this time, the test for granting summary judgment under Rule 20 changed from "there is no genuine issue for trial" to the new "there is no genuine issue requiring a trial" (emphasis added) and additional powers were given for judges to use in connection with a motion for summary judgment under Rule 20. The recent decision of Combined Air Mechanical Services Inc. v. Flesch3 is the first Ontario Court of Appeal decision to consider the new rule. In Combined Air, the Court of Appeal attempts to clarify both the nature and scope of the new Rule 20 and the circumstances that will allow a party to actually obtain summary judgment.

In the authors' view, while the decision in Combined Air is important, the true impact of the 2010 amendments will not be known for some years until successive appeals create a record upon which it will be possible to form a "full appreciation" of the significance of those amendments. The explicit powers granted to judges to resolve factual disputes short of trial gives the profession reason to hope that amended Rule 20 will not suffer the same narrowing and diminishing frequency of application as its predecessors.

1. Summary Judgment in Ontario Before 1985

It is commonly thought that the summary judgment procedure came into the Province of Ontario with the "new" Rules of Civil Procedure made in 1984 and effective January 1, 1985 (the "1985 Rules"). In fact, there was a form of summary judgment based on English practice in the Ontario Rules of Practice even before the major overhaul under Justice Middleton in 1913. Those provisions remained in the Rules of Practice until the 1985 Rules came into force.4

Under the old Rules of Practice, summary judgment was available only when the action was commenced with a "specially endorsed writ". Prior to 1985, an action was commenced by the issuance of a writ of summons, which roughly corresponded to a notice of action in the current Ontario practice. Such a writ would normally be "generally endorsed" with a short statement of the nature of the claim. The full particulars of the claim were provided later in a separate statement of claim.

However, for a certain class of case – defined in Rule 335 – the writ itself could be "specially endorsed" with a brief statement of the claim as specified in Form 8A. A defendant served with a specially endorsed writ was required to deliver an "affidavit of merits" with his appearance "showing the nature of his defence, with the facts and circumstances which he deems entitled him to defend the action".6

The plaintiff was then entitled to cross-examine on this affidavit, and move for summary judgment.7

To grant summary judgment, the court had to be "satisfied that the defendant has not a good defence on the merits or has not disclosed such facts as may be deemed sufficient to entitle him to defend the action".8 If the court was so satisfied, the court could grant judgment for the plaintiff. If the test was not met, "instead of granting judgment, the court may give the defendant leave to defend on such terms as seems just, or make an order for the speedy trial of the action with or without pleadings upon proper terms".9

Demonstrating that "the defendant has not a good defence to the action or has not disclosed such facts as may be deemed sufficient to entitle him to defend the action" was a difficult standard to meet as the plaintiff had to "leave no reason to doubt" that the defendant would not succeed at trial. This high standard was explained in Arnoldson y Serpa v. Confederation Life Association.10

In Arnoldson y Serpa, the plaintiff had sued on a special endorsement for payment of the cash surrender value of a policy issued by the defendant to the plaintiff who was a national and resident of Cuba at the time the policy was issued. The policy provided that "[a]ll payments ... shall be in currency that is at present legal tender in the United States of America",11 and also that "[a]ll payments ... shall be made in the City of Havana, Republic of Cuba.".12 The plaintiff sought payment in US dollars, but the defendant asserted that by the law of Cuba payment in Havana could only be made in Cuban currency. Justice Keith granted summary judgment after finding that the defence was a sham and raised no triable issue. In reversing, the Court of Appeal took a restrictive view of summary judgment powers: 13

We are all of the view that on an application of this nature the power to direct that judgment be summarily signed should be exercised with great caution and with the most scrupulous discretion. The plaintiff must make out a case which is so clear that there is no reason for doubt as to what the judgment of the Court should be if the matter proceeded to trial. Upon such a motion it is not the function of the Judge in Weekly Court or of the Master to determine matters either of law or of fact which are in serious controversy. That function should be reserved to the trial tribunal. The authorities are clear that where there exists any real difficulty as to a matter of law or any serious conflict as to a matter of fact then summary judgment should not be granted....

In the course of argument certain grounds of defence were advanced. We do not pass upon the validity of these alleged defences nor upon the ultimate merits of the issues in this action. We content ourselves by holding that, in our opinion, the plaintiff has not made out a case which is so free of serious controversy on fact and law as to warrant summary judgment in his favour. [Emphasis added.]

As for the provision that a court could give the defendant leave to defend upon terms, this power was used upon occasion. In Adelberg v. Lowe,14 the Master was dubious about the defences raised, but nevertheless determined that the case could not be decided on a motion for judgment and that a triable issue had been raised. He made an order dispensing with the need for the plaintiff to deliver a statement of claim, giving the defendant leave to file a statement of defence within eight days and directing a speedy trial. By contrast, in Gonzales v. Pardo,15 the Master declined to impose terms, in part because there was some question whether the foreign judgment the plaintiff sought to enforce was final, and partly because it appeared that the plaintiff had sequestered the defendant's assets in New York. Similarly, in Kaufman v. George Coles Ltd.,16 the Master had given the defendant leave to defend on terms. This was overturned on appeal on the basis that, if the defendant had raised a triable issue, the defendant could only be put on terms where very special circumstances were made out by the plaintiff. Kaufman appears to be the last case in which the rule was cited until it was repealed 35 years later in the 1985 Rules.

2. Summary Judgment in Ontario After 1985

On January 1, 1985, the 1985 Rules came into force and replaced the old Rules of Practice.

Included in the 1985 Rules was Rule 20, a new rule governing summary judgment that made many changes to the old "specially endorsed" writ system. As stated by the Ontario Court of Appeal in Irving Ungerman Ltd. v. Galanis,17 Rule 20 "substantially expanded the potential scope of a litigant's right to move for summary judgment beyond that provided for in the former Rules of Practice".

For instance, under Rule 20.01, summary judgment was now available to both plaintiffs and defendants. The new Rule also required that affidavit material or other evidence be filed in support of a motion for summary judgment.

Also, Rule 20.04(2) made the granting of summary judgment mandatory in the event that any one of three circumstances was found:

(1) there is no genuine issue for trial;

(2) the only genuine issue is a question of law; or

(3) the only genuine issue is the amount to which the moving party is entitled.

When Rule 20 was first in force, Ontario courts expressed a willingness to engage with and critically evaluate the evidence advanced on a summary judgment motion. Justice Boland, in the 1986 case Vaughan v. Warner Communications Inc.,18 stated that the changes effected by Rule 20 supported the authority of the court to "freely canvass the facts and the law in order to determine whether or not there is a genuine issue for trial":

The specific changes to the summary judgment Rule and the spirit in which other rules are changed indicates in my respectful view that R. 20 should not be eviscerated by the practice of deferring actions for trial at the mere suggestion that further evidence may be made available or that the law is in a state of confusion. [Emphasis added.]

Similarly, in Greenbaum v. 619908 Ontario Ltd.19 Justice Sutherland stated that because evidence was now required on a summary judgment motion, courts should approach such motions with less diffidence and more assurance than under the previous rules where such evidence was not received.

In Vaughan, Justice Boland ultimately concluded that the court now had a duty under Rule 20 to take a "hard look at the merits of an action" on a motion for summary judgment to determine if in fact a "genuine issue" for trial existed.20 This principle was widely accepted in the subsequent jurisprudence.21

(1) The Jurisprudence Shifts to a More Restrictive Interpretation of the Court's Powers under Rule 20

Despite these significant changes and the initial, enthusiastic application of the summary judgment rule in early decisions, the standard that the court be "satisfied" that there is no "genuine issue for trial" grew increasingly difficult for an applicant to meet. This is because courts applying Rule 20 fairly quickly began to place a number of restrictions on their ability to scrutinize and weigh evidence on a summary judgment motion. Most notably, courts quickly placed restrictions on their ability to weigh evidence, draw inferences from the facts, and determine credibility on a summary judgment motion. These restrictions significantly inhibited the court's ability to determine whether there was a genuine issue for trial, and, as a result, reduced the number of summary judgment motions granted.

These restrictions seem to have been motivated by Ontario courts' reluctance to deprive a party of its "day in court".22 As a result of this concern, courts began to find a genuine issue for trial existed where even the smallest factual controversy could be found. An example of this shift is exemplified by the decision of Justice Watt in the 1989 case of Mensah v. Robinson:23

Further, it is my respectful view that, notwithstanding the change in language from former rule 58 to the present sub rule 20.04(2) and the mandatory language of the latter, caution ought nonetheless to continue to be the rule where there are controverted matters of fact on issues material to the determination of the action. [Emphasis added.]

In this case, Justice Watt stated that the court should not attempt to weigh competing affidavit material on a motion for summary judgment, and concluded that judgment should only be granted where there was no room for doubt as to what the judgment of the court should be if the matter proceeded to trial. In so holding, Justice Watt echoed the holding of the Court of Appeal under the Rules of Practice in Arnoldson y Serpa.24

Similarly, in Riviera Farms Ltd. v. Paegus Financial Corp.,25 it was held that while the court must take a "hard look" at the facts, the court should not decide between competing inferences from the facts on a motion for summary judgment. Finally, the courts almost unanimously accepted the principle that, where contested issues of fact arose which involved the credibility of witnesses, summary judgment could not be granted since a trial was the only appropriate forum for determinations of credibility.26 These restrictions further elevated the already high threshold to be met by an applicant for summary judgment.

One leading case regarding the application of Rule 20 is Pizza Pizza Ltd. v. Gillespie.27 Cited not only in Ontario, but also by the Federal Court, Pizza Pizza has been widely accepted as a leading authority on the test governing the granting of summary judgment. In Pizza Pizza, Justice Henry adopts the "hard look" test from Vaughan and states that the applicant must put their "best foot forward":28

It is that the court, in taking a hard look at the merits, must decide whether the case merits reference to a judge at trial. It will, no doubt, have to go to trial if there are real issues of credibility, the resolution of which is essential to determination of the facts. That aside, however, the rule now contemplates that the motions judge will have before him sworn testimony in the affidavits and other material required by the rule in which the parties put their best foot forward. The motions judge, therefore, is expected to be able to assess the nature and quality of the evidence supporting "a genuine issue for trial"; the test is not whether the plaintiff cannot possibly succeed at trial; the test is whether the court reaches the conclusion that the case is so doubtful that it does not deserve consideration by the trier of fact at a future trial; if so then the parties "should be spared the agony and expense of a long and expensive trial after some indeterminate wait" (per Farley J. in Avery). [Emphasis added.]

This case sets out a narrow test for summary judgment that was quickly adopted by the courts. Despite Justice Henry's statements that "the court may, on a common sense basis, draw inferences from the evidence"29 and that "[a]pparent factual conflict in evidence does not end the inquiry," 30 the decision in Pizza Pizza came to stand for the principle that the case must be so doubtful as to not deserve consideration by the trier of fact at a future trial in order to grant summary judgment.31

It is not clear on reading Pizza Pizza that Justice Henry's intention was to limit the scope of the application of the rule. In his analysis, Justice Henry comprehensively reviewed the Rule 20 cases to that point and attempted to strike a balance between the consequences of granting summary judgment too easily and depriving a party of the ability to test its case at a trial and the consequences of sending unmeritorious issues on to trial. Among the cases to which he favourably referred was a decision from earlier that year in which Justice Farley had repeated Justice Boland's concern (expressed four years earlier in Vaughan) "that Rule 20 should not be eviscerated by the practice of deferring actions for trial at the mere suggestion that further evidence may be made available or that the law is in a state of confusion".32

Unfortunately, as Rule 20 was further judicially interpreted, that very process of deferring actions for trial was about to begin.33

(2) The Ungerman and Aguonie Decisions

In 1991, the powers of a motion judge were further restricted following the decision in Irving Ungerman Ltd. v. Galanis.34 In this decision, the Ontario Court of Appeal undertook to clearly set out the meaning of "genuine issue for trial" under Rule 20. To do so, the Court of Appeal looked to the origins of the term and found that "the expression 'genuine issue' was borrowed from the third sentence in Rule 56(c) in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure in the United States that were adopted in 1938".35

Thus, following a consideration of U.S. jurisprudence, the Ontario Court of Appeal discussed the meaning of "genuine issue for trial":36

It is safe to say that "genuine" means not spurious and, more specifically, that the words "for trial" assist in showing the meaning of the term. If the evidence on a motion for summary judgment satisfies the court that there is no issue of fact which requires a trial for its resolution, the requirements of the rule have been met. It must be clear that a trial is unnecessary. The burden is on the moving party to satisfy the court that the requirements of the rule have been met. Further, it is important to keep in mind that the court's function is not to resolve an issue of fact but to determine whether a genuine issue of fact exists". [Emphasis in original.]

The Court of Appeal's focus on the effect of the words "for trial" is to be noted – the words "for trial" appear to be interpreted to mean that if "there is no issue of fact which requires a trial for its resolution" the requirements under Rule 20 have been met. This was the interpretation adopted by the Supreme Court of Canada in Guarantee Co. of North America v. Gordon Capital Corp. 37 when that Court ruled that "[t]he appropriate test to be applied on a motion for summary judgment is satisfied when the applicant has shown that there is no genuine issue of material fact requiring trial, and therefore summary judgment is a proper question for consideration by the court" (emphasis added). This sentence could be interpreted to mean that even if a genuine issue of material fact exists, so long as the motion judge determines a trial is not required to resolve the issue, summary judgment can be granted.

Unfortunately, Ontario courts following Ungerman did not adopt this broader interpretation. Instead, they interpreted Ungerman more conservatively. For example, in 1998 the Ontario Court of Appeal in Aguonie v. Galion Solid Waste Material Inc. – citing Ungerman – held that the court's role on a motion for summary judgment was "narrowly limited to assessing the threshold issue of whether a genuine issue exists as to material facts requiring trial"38 (emphasis added) and that "the court will never assess credibility, weigh the evidence, or find the facts".39 (emphasis added). The evaluation of credibility, the weighing of evidence, and the drawing of factual inferences were all functions to be reserved for the trier of fact40.

The Court of Appeal went on to adopt a narrow view of when summary judgment would be granted:41

Summary judgment, valuable as it is for striking through sham claims and defences which stand in the way to a direct approach to the truth of a case, was not intended to, nor can it, deprive a litigant of his or her right to a trial unless there is a clear demonstration that no genuine issue exists, material to the claim or defence, which is within the traditional province of a trial judge to resolve. [Emphasis added.]

Thus, despite the potential for a broader interpretation making summary judgment available where a genuine issue of fact exists that does not require a trial for its resolution, in subsequent application Ungerman instead served to limit the situations in which summary judgment could be granted. Following Ungerman, the presence of any genuine issue precluded the possibility of proceeding summarily. Eventually, subsequent interpretation of the rule confirmed that the motion judge played only a "narrow role"42 on a motion for summary judgment and that summary judgment is appropriate only where the motion judge is "satisfied that it is clear that a trial is unnecessary".43

(3) The State of the Jurisprudence under Rule 20 Before the 2010 Changes to the Rule

In the years following Ungerman and Aguonie, the restrictions on a motion judge's ability to evaluate evidence continued to be upheld. Justice Boland's 1986 statement in Vaughan, repeated in 1990 by Justice Farley in Avery and Justice Henry in Pizza Pizza – that Rule 20 should not be "eviscerated by the practice of deferring actions for trial at the mere suggestion that further evidence may be made available or that the law is in a state of confusion" – was, by 2009, no longer the guiding philosophy in the application of the Rule.

Instead, it became "well settled" that the role of the judge on a motion for summary judgment was limited to deciding whether there existed any genuine issue of material fact that required a trial for its resolution. Although this involved taking a hard look at the evidence presented, the motion judge was not to attempt to find facts, assess credibility or decide questions of law.44 The motion judge was also not to draw inferences from conflicting evidence or from evidence that was not in conflict when more than one inference was reasonably possible.45

As a result of these strict limitations and the judge's "narrow role," Rule 20 did not make summary judgment widely available to applicants but rather limited its availability. Arguably, the purpose and objective of Rule 20 under the 1985 Rules was not achieved.

3. The Federal Courts Experience

In 1994, the Federal Courts Rules were amended to add a summary judgment procedure under Rules 432.1 to 423.7. These provisions came into effect on January 13, 1994,46 and set out the scope for summary judgment motions:

  • Rule 432.3(4) provided that even where "a judge decides that there is a genuine issue with respect to a claim or defence, the judge may nevertheless grant summary judgment in favour of any party, either upon an issue or generally, unless (a) the judge is unable on the whole of the evidence to find the facts necessary to decide the questions of fact and law; or (b) the judge considers that it would be unjust to decide the issues on the motion for summary judgment";
  • Rule 432.3(5) authorized the judge, when dismissing the motion for summary judgment in whole or in part, to order the action or the issues in the action not disposed of by summary judgment to proceed to an expedited trial under Rule 327.1 upon the request of any party; and
  • Rule 327.1 provided for an expedited trial, similar to a summary trial under British Columbia Rule 9-7 (formerly Rule 18A).47 By Rule 327.1(e), the expedited trial rule was explicitly integrated with the summary judgment rules, and provided that any additional discovery prior to the expedited trial be limited to matters not covered in the affidavits filed for the summary judgment motion and the cross-examinations on those affidavits.

One of the first cases to interpret Rules 432.1-432.7 was Marine Atlantic Inc. v. Blyth.48 In Blyth, defence counsel cited numerous decisions under the Ontario Rules of Practice in support of its arguments against summary judgment. The Federal Court, however, concluded that it was not clear that the new Federal Courts Rules were to be interpreted in the same fashion as the Ontario Rules:49

Rules 432.1 and following should be interpreted by reference to their own textual framework. Rule 432.3(4) provides that summary judgment should not be granted on an issue when (1) on the whole of the evidence the judge cannot find the necessary facts or (2) it would be unjust to do so. These are the criteria which must be considered ...

This became the test to be applied by the Federal Court under the new Rules. In the early jurisprudence relating to the summary judgment rules, the Federal Court acknowledged the broader power allowed under the new Rules, compared to the Ontario Rules, with respect to deciding both questions of law and fact on summary judgment.50

Footnotes

1 While our focus is on summary judgment, there are other mechanisms that may result in a more expeditious resolution of a matter including a motion to strike an untenable cause of action or defence under Rule 21 of the Ontario Rules of Civil Procedure, R.R.O. 1990, Reg. 194, or Rule 221 of the Federal Courts Rules, SOR/98-106, and in limited circumstances the use of an application under Rule 14.05 of the Rules of Civil Procedure or Part 5 of the Federal Courts Rules. For example St. Andrew Goldfields Ltd. Canada Ltd. (2009), 179 A.C.W.S. (3d) 826, 2009 CanLII 40549 (Ont S.C.J.), affd 201 A.C.W.S. (3d) 691, 2011 ONCA 377, and BBM Canada v. Research In Motion Ltd. (2011), 93 C.P.R. (4th) 1, 201 A.C.W.S. (3d) 631, 2011 FCA 151.

2 SOR/94-41 . Note also that prior to 2003, the Federal Court was a single court with a trial division and an appellate division known as the Federal Court of Appeal. In 2003, the Federal Court Act was amended to become the Federal Courts Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. F-7, with the two divisions of the Federal Court becoming two separate courts. The former Federal Court Trial Division became simply the Federal Court, and the Federal Court of Appeal continued as a separate court with that name. For the sake of consistency in this paper the current terminology is used to describe each court and the Federal Courts Rules (unless the reference is in a quotation) regardless of its actual title at the time of the decision being discussed.

3 Combined Air Mechanical Services v. Flesch, (2011), 108 O.R. (3d) 1, 2011 ONCA 764.

4 The provisions of the Rules of Practice discussed in this paper are those as they read immediately before the Rules of Civil Procedure came into effect.

5 Rule 33 (1) of the Rules of Practice provided: At the option of the plaintiff, the writ of summons may be specially endorsed with a statement of his claim where the plaintiff seeks to recover a debt or liquidated demand in money (with or without interest and whether the interest be payable by way of damages or otherwise) arising,

(a) upon a simple written promise to pay or upon a written acknowledgement of debt; or

(b) upon a simple contract, express or implied, for goods sold and delivered; or

(c) upon a simple contract, express or implied, where the price or method of calculation of the price has been agreed upon for,

(i) work done or services rendered, or

(ii) work done or services rendered and for the supply and installation of materials; or

(d) upon a cheque, promissory note or bill of exchange; or

(e) upon an account settled between the parties in writing; or

(f) upon a bond or contract under seal for payment of a liquidated sum, but not including a claim for liquidated damages; or

(g) upon a judgment; or

(h) upon a statute where the amount sought to be recovered is a fixed sum of money or is in the nature of a debt other than a penalty; or

(i) upon a guarantee in writing where the claim against the principal is in respect of a debt or liquidated demand;

or the writ of summons may be specially endorsed with a statement of his claim:

(j) in an action for recovery of land; or

(k) in an action for recovery of chattels; or

(l) in an action for foreclosure, sale or redemption

6 Ontario Rules of Practice, Rule 42(1).

7 Ibid., Rule 58(1).

8 Ibid., Rule 58(2).

9 Ibid., Rule 58(3). In practice, defendants would often bring a motion to strike a special endorsement instead of filing an affidavit of merits. There was plenty of scope for such motions to strike. For instance, a special endorsement could be used in the caSe of a simple contract, namely a contract not required to be under seal. However, a defendant playing for time might bring a motion if the agreement in question had a seal, ostensibly to determine whether the agreement was still a simple contract even. though it bore a seal. While the case law held contracts under seal that were not required to be under seal were still simple contracts - see for example Queensway Lincoln Mercury Sales (1980) Ltd. v. 409918 Ontario Ltd. (1981), 34 O.R. (2d) 568, 25 C.P.C. 186 (H.C.J.), per Reid J. - there was sufficient scope for argument and uncertainty in the case law that a motion could be brought to determine this point. Regardless of outcome, by bringing such a motion a defendant succeeded in extending the time to file his or her affidavit of merits. There is a similar volume of cases, brought for a similar purpose, discussing whether an amount claimed was a "liquidated amount". These include decisions of rent calculated as a percentage of the tenant's gross sales (see Viking Shopping Centres Ltd. v. Foodex Systems Ltd. (1975), 11 O.R. (2d) 503 (H.C.J.), per Morden J.) and a balance due on closing under an ordinary agreement of purchase and sale, even when subject to adjustments (Kennedy v. 315812 Ontario Ltd. (1976), 2 C.P.C. 281 (Ont. H.C.J.), per Southey J.). While that proposition was stated at p. 284, the particular special endorsement was struck on other grounds. On the other hand, it was determined that an architect's fees calculated as a percentage of the cost of const.ruction was not a liquidated amount (see Rasins v. Place Park"(Windsor) Ltd. (1977); 4 C.P.C. 63 (Ont. S.C.), per Master Davidson).

10 Arnoldson y Serpa v. Confederation Life Assn. (1974), 43 D.L.R. (3d) 324, 2 O.R. (2d) 484, [1974] I.L.R. ¶1-594 (H.C.J.), revd 46 D.L.R. (3d) 641, 3 O.R. (2d) 721, [1974] I.L.R. ¶1-606 (C.A.).

11 Ibid., at p. 641 (C.A.).

12 Ibid.

13 Ibid., at p. 642.

14 Adelberg v. Lowe, [1945] O.W.N. 540 (H.C.), per Master Conant.

15 Gonzales v. Pardo, [1947] O.W.N. 130 (H.C.), per Master Conant.

16 Kaufman v. George Coles Ltd., [1949] O.W.N. 357 (H.C.), per Wilson J.

17 Irving Ungerman Ltd. v. Galanis (1991), 83 D.L.R. (4th) 734, 4 O.R. (3d) 545, 1 C.P.C. (3d) 248 (C.A.), at p. 738.

18 Vaughan v. Warner Communications, Inc. (1986), 56 OR (2d) 242, 10 C.P.R. (3d) 492, 10 C.P.C. (2d) 205 (H.C.J.), at paras. 12 and 17.

19 Greenbaum v. 619908 Ontario Ltd. (1986), 11 C.P.C. (2d) 26, 39 A.C.W.S. (2d) 322 (Ont. H.C.J.), at. para. 51.

20 Supra, footnote 18, at para. 17.

21 See, for example, 209991 Ontario Ltd. v. Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, (1988), 24 C.P.C. (2d) 248, 39 B.L.R. 44, 8 P.P.S.A.C. 135 (Ont. H.C.J.); National Trust Co. v. Maxwell (1989), 34 C.P.C. (2d) 211, 3 R.P.R. (2d) 263, 14 A.C.W.S. (3d) 318 (Ont. H.C.J.); and Tran v. Wong (1989), 37 C.P.C. (2d) 145, 16 A.C.W.S. (3d) 213 (Ont. H.C.J.).

22 See, for example, Aguonie v. Galion Solid Waste Material Inc. (1998), 156 D.L.R. (4th) 222, 38 O.R. (3d) 161, 17 C.P.C. (4th) 219 (C.A.).

23 Mensah v. Robinson (1989), 14 AC.W.S. (3d) 53 (Ont. H.C.J.), at para. 55.

24 Supra, footnote 10.

25 Riviera Farms Ltd. v. Paegus Financial Corp. (1988), 29 C.P.C. (2d) 217 (Ont. H.C.J.), leave to appeal allowed 32 C.P.C. (2d) 164 (Ont. H.C.J.), at para. 16.

26 See, for example, CIBC, supra, foot note 21 at para. 23; Mensah, supra, footnote 23; Alvi v. Lal (1990), 13 R.P.R. (2d) 302, 20 A.C.W.S. (3d) 1063 (Ont. H.C.J.); and Pizza Pizza Ltd. v. Gillespie (1990), 75 O.R. (2d) 225, 33 C.P.R. (3d) 515, 45 C.P.C. (2d) 168 (Gen. Div.), at paras. 33-34.

27 Ibid.

28 Ibid., at para 41.

29 Ibid., at para 42.

30 Ibid.

31 See, for example, the following Ontario decisions: Intellibox Concept Inc. v. Intermec Technologies Canada Ltd, (2011), 208 AC.W,S. (3d) 696, 2011 ONSC 4264; 2069190 Ontario Inc. v. Economical Mutual Insurance Group (2009), 183 A.C.W,S. (3d) 239, 2009 CarswellOnt 7697 (S.C.J.); and Warner v. Cherry (1997), 71 A.C.W.S. (3d) 652, [1997] O.J. No. 2208 (Gen. Div.). Also see, for example, the following decisions of the Federal Courts: Feoso Oil Ltd. v. "Sarla" (The), [1995] 3 F.C. 68, 184 N.R, 307, 56 A.C.W.S. (3d) 41 (C.A.); Granville Shipping Co. v. Pegasus Lines Ltd. S.A., [1996] 2 F.C. 853, 111 F.T.R. 189, 62 A.C.W.S. (3d) 1095 (T.D.); and Federated Co-operatives Ltd. v. Canada (M.N.R., Customs and Excise) (1999), 165 F.T.R. 135, 89 A.C.W.S. (3d) 1179 (T.D.), affd 268 N.R. 353, 104 A.C.W.S. (3d) 94, 2001 FCA 23, leave to appeal to S.C.C. refused 275 N.R. 399n, 200 F.T.R. 106n.

32 Avery v. Value Investment Corp. (1990), 21 A.C.W.S. (3d) 488, [1990] O.J. No. 843 (H.C.J.), affd 25 A.C.W.S. (3d) 827 (C.A.).

33 The Federal Court of Appeal recently held in Amazon.com, Inc. v. Canada (Attorney General) (2011), 97 C.P.R. (4th) 171, 2011 FCA 328, at paras. 53-54, in remitting a patent application to the Commissioner for further consideration: "the Commissioner should be wary of devising or relying on tests of the kind set out in the previous paragraph, even if they are intended only to summarize principles derived from the jurisprudence interpreting some aspect of the statutory definition of 'invention'. The focus should remain on the principles to be derived from the jurisprudence. Catch phrases, tag words and generalizations can take on a life of their own, diverting attention away from the governing principles. Of course, the Commissioner must consider all relevant jurisprudence, but must also recognize that each decided case turns on its own facts and arises in the context of the state of knowledge at a particular point in time, with the objective of resolving a particular disagreement between the parties to the litigation. Such contextual factors, necessarily mean that caution should be exercised in developing a principle derived from a specific decided case and extrapolating it to another case". It may be that Pizza Pizza suffered the fate of being distilled down to a catch phrase.

34 Supra, footnote 17.

35 Ibid., at p. 738.

36 Ibid., at p. 740.

37 Guarantee Co. of North America v. Gordon Capital Corp., [1999] 3 S.C.R. 423, 178 D.L.R. (4th) 1, 39 C.P.C. (4th) 100, at para. 27.

38 Supra, footnote 22, at para. 32.

39 Ibid.

40 Ibid.

41 Ibid., at para 35.

42 Dawson v. Rexcraft Storage & Warehouse Inc. (1998), 164 D.L.R. (4th) 257, 26 C.P.C. (4th) 1, 111 O.A.C. 201 (C.A.), at para. 20.

43 Supra., at para. 20; and Folland v. Reardon (2005), 249 D.L.R. (4th) 167, 74 O.R. (3d) 688, 194 O.A.C. 201 (C.A.), at para. 33.

44 Ferri v. Root (2006), 279 D.L.R. (4th) 643, 219 O.A.C. 340 sub nom. Mammoliti v. Niagara Regional Police Service, 45 C.C.L.T. (3d) 159 (C.A.), leave to appeal to S.C.C. refused [2007] 3 S.C.R. xiv, 281 D.L.R. (4th) vii, 241 O.A.C. 400, at para. 68; Royal Bank. of Canada v. Société Générale (Canada) (2006), 219 O.A.C. 83, 31 B.L.R. (4th) 63, 154 A.C.W.S. (3d) 72, addt'l reasons 31 B.L.R. (4th) 83, 157 A.C.W.S. (3d) 40, 2007 ONCA 302, leave to appeal to S.C.C. refused [2007] 3 S.C.R. xv, 376 N.R. 400n, [2007] S.C.C.A. No. 87, at para. 35; Esses v. Friedberg & Co. (2008), 241 O.A.C. 134, 169 A.C.W.S. (3d) 1016, 2008 ONCA 646, leave to appeal to S.C.C. refused [2009]1 S.C.R. viii, 395 N.R. 393n, [2008] S.C.C.A. No. 471, at para. 43.

45 Transamerica Occidental Life Insurance Co. v. Toronto-Dominion Bank (1999), 173 D.L.R. (4th) 468, 44 O.R. (3d) 97, 118 O.A.C. 149 (C.A.), at para. 50, citing Aguonie, supra, footnote 22, at para. 32.

46 Supra, note 2.

47 British Columbia Supreme Court Civil Rules, B.C. Reg. 168/2009. A summary trial in British Columbia is an expedited trial process in which the litigants provide evidence primarily by way of written affidavits. Following the hearing of a summary trial, the court may: (a) grant judgment in favour of any party, either on an issue or generally, unless (i) the court is unable, on the whole of the evidence before the court on the application, to find the facts necessary to decide the issues of fact or law, or (ii) the court is of the opinion that it would be unjust to decide the issues on the application; (b) impose terms respecting enforcement of the judgment, including a stay of execution; and (c) award costs.

48 Marine Atlantic Inc. v. Blyth (1994), 77 F.T.R. 97, 47 A.C.W.S. (3d) 1107 (T.D.).

49 Ibid., at paras. 14 and 15.

50 In Patrick v. Canada (1994), 49 A.C.W.S. (3d) 1216, [1994] F.C.J. No. 1216 (T.D.), Justice Strayer stated at para. 6 that: "[t]he new Federal Court Rule 432.3(4)(a) clearly authorizes a judge to decide questions of both fact and law on a motion for summary judgment if he is able to do so on the material before him. broader than that provided under Ontario Rule 20".

To read the rest of this article together with its remaining footnotes please click here.

The foregoing provides only an overview. Readers are cautioned against making any decisions based on this material alone. Rather, a qualified lawyer should be consulted.

© Copyright 2012 McMillan LLP

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Peter Wells, C.S.
Annik Forristal
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