A motion for summary judgment can be a valuable tool for
municipalities. In the right circumstances, it can lead to
decreased costs and the early resolution of a lawsuit.
A summary judgment motion is filed by one of the parties in a
lawsuit. It asks the court to render a judgment, without a
trial, based upon the evidence filed with the court. The
Supreme Court's decision in Hryniak confirms that
these motions are an important tool for the fair and efficient
administration of justice.
Certain circumstances are more appropriate for summary judgment
motions. One example is when an individual slips and falls on an
icy sidewalk. The plaintiff has an obligation to notify the
city of their claim within 10 days of the alleged incident.
If they do not notify the municipality, the plaintiff must
establish that they had a reasonable excuse for failing to put the
municipality on notice and that the municipality was not prejudiced
by their failure to do so. If these conditions have not been met, a
motion for summary judgment is an effective tool to dispense with
the need for trial.
Because of these conditions, it will often be better to move for
summary judgment after completing examinations for discovery.
This gives defence counsel an opportunity to discover whether
the plaintiff knew that the sidewalk was owned by the municipality
and that the municipality was responsible for maintaining it.
It gives defence counsel an opportunity to determine whether
the plaintiff was physically and mentally capable of seeking advice
or speaking to a lawyer in the period after the incident.
This evidence, if favourable, strengthens the case for
It will also benefit the municipality to introduce evidence
demonstrating the actions that would have been taken if notice had
been received. Particularly in cases involving snow and ice,
where conditions can change rapidly, a municipality's system
for investigation bolsters the position that lack of notice is
This is not to say, however, that summary judgment is always the
best path. Where a number of factual issues are in dispute, the
court may be reluctant to render a judgment in the absence of a
trial. This reluctance exists in spite of the amendments to
Rule 20, which allow motions judges to weigh evidence, determine
credibility, and make inferences. The fewer factual issues in
dispute, the likelier it is that a defendant will be successful on
a motion for summary judgment.
Under B.C.'s former and current Limitation Act, the limitation period for a Plaintiff's claim can be extended on the basis of a Defendant having acknowledged in writing some liability for the cause of action.
Automobile drivers, like fine wine, tend to get better with age. Older drivers can draw on a wealth of experience from their years on the road to assist them when faced by a variety of dangerous conditions.
The insurance industry will be interested in Ledcor Construction Ltd v. Northbridge Indemnity Insurance Co because of principles the Supreme Court of Canada applied to the "faulty workmanship" exclusion in a Builders' Risk policy.
For the first time in BC, a Court has decided that an insured is entitled to special costs, rather than the lower tariff costs, solely because they were successful in a coverage action against their insurer.
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).