In Hryniak v. Mauldin, released January 23, 2014, the Supreme Court of Canada upheld the finding of fraud against Toronto businessman Robert Hyrniak on a summary judgment motion. The unanimous SCC found that a shift in culture is needed to embrace summary judgment motions as an alternative model of adjudicating disputes. The SCC ruled that findings of fraud can be made when the judge is able to reach a fair and just determination on the merits on a summary judgment motion. This will be the case when the motion:
- allows the judge to make the necessary findings of fact;
- allows the judge to apply the law to the facts; and
- is a proportionate, more expeditious and less expensive means to achieve a just result.
In a call to action to improve access to justice, the SCC also called upon lower court judges to take a more active role in case-managing disputes by seizing themselves of cases where they have dismissed a motion for summary judgment. This is a significant departure from current practice.
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