Summary judgment is a process in civil court proceedings that allows the court to make a decision without the need for a full trial. In Ontario, the test for granting summary judgment is when the court is satisfied that there is no genuine issue requiring a trial with respect to a claim or defence. In this blog post, we will examine the meaning of “genuine issue requiring trial” and how it is applied in Ontario civil court proceedings.
The Hryniak Decision and the Definition of a Genuine Issue
The Supreme Court of Canada made a significant change to the summary judgment process in 2014 with its decision in Hryniak v. Mauldin. While this decision liberalized the use of summary judgment, it did not affect the definition of a “genuine issue” in Rule 20 of the Rules of Civil Procedure. In Irving Ungerman Ltd. v. Galanis, Morden A.C.J.O. noted that the definition of “genuine issue” was taken from the third sentence of Rule 56(c) of the 1938 Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. This definition was adopted in Ontario’s Rule 20, but the phrase “as to any substantial fact” was not included, and the phrase “and the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law” was also omitted.
The meaning of “genuine issue” in Rule 20 was explained by Morden A.C.J.O. as follows: “Genuine” means not spurious, and “for trial” clarifies the concept. The test is met if a move for summary judgment proves there is no dispute of fact that requires a trial. The moving party must prove compliance with the rule to the court, and the court’s role is to assess if a genuine dispute of fact exists, not to settle it.
The Trial-Worthy Issue in Hryniak
The Supreme Court of Canada defined a trial-worthy issue in Hryniak as follows: (Rule 20.04(2)(a)). The court must focus on the purposes and ideas that underlie summary judgment motions to decide whether there is such an issue. The court must also determine if the summary judgment process (1) allows the judge to make the requisite factual findings, (2) allows the judge to apply the law to the facts, and (3) is proportionate, faster, and cheaper to produce a just conclusion. If the court decides a move for summary judgment fairly and justly, there will be no substantive issue necessitating a trial.
Examples of Genuine Issues Requiring Trial
The following are examples of cases in which the court found that there was a genuine issue requiring a trial:
Fontenelle v. Canada (Attorney General) – the Ontario Court of Appeal overturned a motion judge’s summary ruling, stating that a trial was needed to determine whether the defendant was accountable for the plaintiff’s injuries.
92725440 Canada Inc. v. Vijayakumar – The judge denied a plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment to force the defendant to sell a residence. The motion hinged on the defendant’s intended use for the residence, which was a genuine factual dispute.
1615540 Ontario Inc. (c.o.b. Healing Hands Massage Therapy Clinic) v. Simon – Summary judgment was denied for the clinic because there was a genuine factual dispute between the parties.
Fernandes v. Carleton University – The motion judge granted summary judgment and rejected the plaintiff’s claim. The court found that the motion judge correctly adopted the Hryniak approach and that the evidence supported the findings.
In these cases, the court found that a trial was necessary to resolve the factual disputes between the parties, and that the summary judgment process was not adequate to resolve the issues.
Examples of No Genuine Issues Requiring Trial
The following are examples of cases in which the court found that there was no genuine issue requiring a trial:
Phillips v. Disney – The plaintiff sued the defendant for failing to pay the purchase price for a house. The defendant argued that there were three live issues, but the judge allowed the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment because the circumstances showed a binding purchase and sale agreement.
Mayers v. Khan – Justice Glustein allowed a motor vehicle negligence summary judgment, stating that more motor vehicle negligence cases will be resolved through motions for summary judgment in the post-Hryniak era.
Jacobson v. Skurka – The defendant won his summary judgment motion after long procedural motions to strike his statement of defense with leave to amend.
In these cases, the court found that the evidence was clear and that a trial was not necessary to resolve the issues.
Summary judgment is a legal procedure that allows a court to resolve a case without a full trial. In Ontario, the test for granting summary judgment is when the court is satisfied that there is no genuine issue requiring a trial with respect to a claim or defence. This means that the court must be able to make a fair and just determination on the merits of the case based on the evidence presented.
The Hryniak decision has changed the way summary judgment motions are handled in Ontario civil court proceedings. A genuine issue requiring a trial exists when the court cannot make the necessary factual findings, apply the law to the facts, and achieve a just result through summary judgment. The post-Hryniak decisions have shown that various factors are considered when determining whether a genuine issue exists, including the nature of the case, the evidence presented, and the credibility of the parties involved.