What is a summary judgment?

What is a summary judgment?

When a claim, defence, and the reply to the defence has been filed and sent, either the plaintiff or defendant can file a summary judgment motion that asks the court to make a judgment on whether the case can be settled prior to engaging in a trial.

For example, if an employee files a wrongful dismissal claims because they have not received enough notice (received 2 weeks’ notice, instead of their desired 3 months’ notice), the counsel for either the employee or employer can file a motion asking the judge to determine whether this case can be resolved prior to initiating a trial.

This judgment comes down to the facts of each individual case. After reviewing the case and the evidence provided, the judge will determine whether there is a “genuine issue” that would need to be presented before a trial. When deliberating whether there is a “genuine issue”, the judge is deciding whether there is a genuine issue with the material fact. The material facts prove or disprove that the facts (presented by both parties) of the case are applicable to its result.

The material that can be provided to the judge may include the motion, facts of the case from the perspective of each party, information that each party believes is necessary for the judge to recognize, or witness testimony. Once the statements and evidence are provided and revised by the judge, they will decide whether it would be fair to omit the trial process.

This process can be beneficial for certain cases because it saves a lot of time and money for both parties involved and the courts hearing the case. Many cases are repetitive in nature and content, like wrongful dismissals, and it is helpful to have a routine that is time and cost effective for everyone involved. Trials can be lengthy and unpredictable, so when there are cases that can be handled with greater ease, the opportunity should be taken. Further, it can push both parties to compromise, and resolve their matter fairly for both parties involved.

Why are summary judgments important when a party wants to settle? Filing a summary judgment can push a settlement which can greatly benefit both parties. For the employee, a summary judgment drives the employer to make an offer that is reasonable enough for the employee to accept promptly. In reference to the earlier example, this could mean that the amount of notice (or pay in lieu of notice) that the employer has offered will be reasonable enough for the employee to accept.

The employer will want to make an acceptable offer for the employee because it not only cuts down legal fees and time handling a disruption, but it can also keep the issue strictly confidential. When a matter is settled, it is common that the parties will sign a confidentiality agreement issuing the case must be kept private between parties, where no former colleagues, future employers, future colleagues etc. can know that this legal matter has ever occurred.

If you require legal counsel to negotiate an employment law matter, please contact KCY at LAW by filling in an online consultation request or contact us by phone at 905-639-0999 to book your consultation today.