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July 17, 2013

No Leave Required for Summary Judgment Motion After Set Down

Does a party that sets an action down require leave to bring a summary judgment motion?

According to Justice Quinn in Fruitland Juices Inc. v. Custom Farm Service Inc. 2012 ONSC 4902 (S.C.J.), no leave is required.

In Fruitland, the defendant brought a summary judgment motion after it set the action down for trial.  The plaintiff objected pursuant to r. 48.04(1).  Justice Quinn granted leave.  He held:

[28]   The requirement for a substantial and unexpected change in circumstances is not a helpful or logical test where the motion for which leave is requested seeks summary judgment. The primary purpose of such a motion is to spare the parties and the legal system the expense and intrusion of an unnecessary trial or, at least, unnecessary issues within the trial. A party is not obliged to bring a summary judgment motion at the earliest opportunity; neither must there be a precipitating event such as a change in circumstances. So long as the motion, if successful, will be less costly and time-consuming than the trial, and will not unduly delay the start of the trial, I do not see why the moving party must explain his or her choice of timing. In other motions (such as to add parties, raise new issues or amend pleadings), the explanation for a delay in so moving is relevant, as is the issue of prejudice to the opposing party. However, none of that is relevant or required in a motion for summary judgment, at least in the circumstances of this case. A summary judgment motion brought at any time is a potential blessing for the administration of justice.

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