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Hrnyiak v. Mauldin: Has the Supreme Court finally provided us with clear guidance on summary judgment?

The Supreme Court of Canada’s intention in Hryniak v. Mauldin was to sow the seeds of a “culture shift” in the approach to summary judgment in Ontario, and to litigation in Canada. The Court endorsed a robust model of summary judgment that transforms the procedure “from a means to weed out unmeritorious claims to a significant alternative model of adjudication”.

Clearly, this marked a sea change in the resolution of civil disputes. The Supreme Court explicitly set out to dethrone the conventional trial as the gold standard for adjudication, urging a shift from the primacy of the fulsome ‘trial narrative’ to the primacy of proportionate, timely, and affordable resolution of disputes. Before Hryniak, this would have been unthinkable. The supremacy of the conventional trial is deeply ingrained into the psyche of both bench and bar: its status as the apex predator of dispute resolution mechanisms had never before been seriously questioned.

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