Summary Judgment

Written on behalf of Peter McSherry
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Ontario courts allow for an easy process to ask a judge to decide the merits of a case. It is called a “summary” method of deciding the case. “Summary” is intended in this context to mean easy or at least, easier.

This means that there is no need to have a trial with live witnesses. The case is brought by “motion” to the judge. Each side presents their case by affidavit evidence, on which the opposing party can cross-examine in advance. The judge hears submissions from each lawyer. This process  is usually used when there are no cause allegations. Issues such as the assessment of the notice period or the impact of a contract of employment can be decided by the judge in this manner.

Recent Case

A good example of this process is a recent decision[1] in which the judge decided the notice period and the interpretation of two documents. One agreement purported to deny the employee full payment of commissions earned prior to termination. This issue was decided against the company as it was ambiguous. A second document was reviewed as to whether it denied the employee a claim for stock options in the severance period. This was also decided against the company. The case is a good example of how the summary judgment process can be used. The case involved considerable financial recovery but that does not mean every case requires such large damage claims.

We reviewed in a prior post how the court can deal with the issue of job search in this process.

Employees’ View

This process can usually be less expensive and quicker than a normal trial process. It may also accelerate the case and cause the employer to consider settlement at an earlier stage.

Get Advice and Know Your Rights

This is an important process and can be helpful to advance an employee’s case. Get advice. Know your rights. Contact the offices of Guelph employment lawyer Peter McSherry. We can guide you through the issues, help you understand your rights, and defend your position. Contact us online or by phone at 519-821-5465 to schedule a consultation



[1] O’Reilly v Imax