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December 21, 2011

Summary Judgment - Oral Evidence

In this post, we continue our discussion of the Court of Appeal's decision in Combined Air Mechanical Services Inc. v. Flesch, 2011 ONCA 764.

Rule 20.04(2.2) permits a judge to hear oral evidence on a summary judgment motion. The Court provided guidance on when this discretion may be exercised.

The Court held that a party that moves for summary judgment must be in a position to present a case capable of being decided on a paper record. The motions judge can decide if he or she requires viva voce evidence under r. 20.04(2.2). The purpose of the rule is not to allow a party to enhance the record it has put before the court.

An order for oral evidence will generally be appropriate where the judge concludes the exercise of powers under r. 20.04(2.1) will be facilitated by hearing oral evidence of a limited number of witnesses on one or more specific, discrete and likely determinative issues.

An order under r. 20.04(2.2) may be appropriate where:

(1) Oral evidence can be obtained from a small number of witnesses and gathered in a manageable period of time;
(2) Any issue to be dealt with by presenting oral evidence is likely to have a
significant impact on whether the summary judgment motion is granted; and
(3) Any such issue is narrow and discrete – i.e., the issue can be separately decided and is not enmeshed with other issues on the motion.

- Tara Pollitt

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