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The Ontario Rules of Civil Procedure allow for certain matters to proceed by way of application, where a court can determine a discrete legal issue without the need for a full trial. Although an application can be an expeditious and cost-effective way to resolve a legal dispute, lawyers should be careful to ensure the issues in the case are the proper subject matter of an application. The Ontario Court of Appeal’s decision in Jackson v Solar Income Fund Inc is an important reminder of the limits of an application and the court’s unwillingness to make rulings on the basis of a limited evidentiary record.  

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Businesses need to be able to resolve disputes quickly and effectively.  For that reason, the Ontario Business Corporations Act (the “OBCA”) provides that any appeal of an order made under the OBCA lies to the Divisional Court (a special branch of the Superior Court of Justice), instead of the Court of Appeal.  In theory, appeals to the Divisional Court are resolved more quickly than appeals to the Court of Appeal. 

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In Hryniak v. Mauldin, the Supreme Court of Canada called for a “culture shift” in the legal community’s approach to adjudicating disputes.  Justice Karakatsanis provided a clear directive: summary judgment is a “legitimate alternative for adjudicating and resolving legal disputes”. It is not merely a “tool used to weed out clearly unmeritorious claims or defences.” 

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At the risk of stating the obvious, gambling is unpredictable. Most people would agree that law is different. We think of law as being a predictable discipline governed by rules. Or at least we want to think that it is. A recent decision of the Ontario Court of Appeal—one that fittingly involves gambling— reminds us, however that predictability is not the only principle that courts value.

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Law and fact, deference and correctness seem no less muddled than ever, as judges begin to interpret the Supreme Court's decision in Sattva Capital Corp v. Creston Moly Corp, 2014 SCC 53. In Sattva Capital, the Court held that pure contractual interpretation matters generally raise issues of mixed fact and law requiring deference, unless it is possible to clearly identify extricable issues of law.

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The Court of Appeal has affirmed the robust gatekeeping function to be exercised by trial courts in the admission of expert evidence (Meady v. Greyhound, 2015 ONCA 6).

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It's trite law that an unsuccessful litigant generally pays the successful party's costs.  But what happens when the winner hired lawyers from out-of-town who had to travel regularly for the case?  Does the losing party have to pay the travel costs incurred by the winner because they chose to hire out-of-town lawyers?  In Matheson v. CIBC Woody Gundy, the Nova Scotia Supreme Court held that the answer is yes, at least in some cases.

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Canadian Courts have been faced in recent years with a number of class actions in which employees allege that their employer improperly misclassified them as ineligible for overtime pay.  The Ontario Court of Appeal's recent decision in Brown v. Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce makes it more difficult for such claims to proceed as class actions.

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Lazy litigants beware: not only is your (in)action subject to a dismissal motion under Rule 24 of the Rules of Civil Procedure, it is also subject to the court's inherent jurisdiction.

According to the Ontario Court of Appeal in Wallace v. Crate's Marine Sales Lotd, 2014 ONCA 671, inordinate delay in pursuing an action could be construed as an abuse of process, and as undermining the administration of the civil justice system.

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At least one Superior Court judge seems to think so. In a decision on costs, Justice David Brown made the following comment regarding the claims for photocopying: