In Hryniak v. Mauldin, 2014 SCC 7, the Supreme Court of Canada
has introduced a "culture shift" in the way parties and
Canadian Courts approach summary proceedings. Recognizing that the
new summary judgment rule, Rule 20 of the Rules of Civil Procedure,
was meant to improve access to justice, the Supreme Court held that
Canadian judges have new tools to avoid the costs and delay of a
Summary judgment will be granted where there is no genuine issue
requiring a trial. The Court applied a two-part test to determine
if there is a genuine issue requiring a trial. First, the judge
should determine if there is a genuine issue requiring a trial
based on the evidence before her, without using the new
fact-finding powers set out in Rule 20. There will be no genuine
issue requiring a trial if the summary judgment process provides
the judge with the evidence required to fairly and justly
adjudicate the dispute in a timely, affordable and proportionate
way. Second, if there appears to be a genuine issue requiring a
trial, the judge should then determine if the need for a trial can
be avoided by using the new powers under Rule 20 to weigh evidence,
evaluate credibility, and draw reasonable inferences.
Critically, the Supreme Court held that where a motions judge
dismisses a motion for summary judgment, in the "absence of
compelling reasons to the contrary", the motion judge should
seize herself of the dispute as the trial judge.
The Hyrniak decision clearly represents a significant
milestone in Canadian civil litigation and the resolution of
disputes. The Supreme Court's culture shift recognizes the
importance of summary proceedings as an alternative to the
mechanism of a trial, where it is in the interests of justice,
proportionality and efficiency to do so.
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