Looking for the Access to
Justice Research Network
(AJRN)? Click here

Inventory of Reforms

Ontario Summary Judgment (Rule 20)


Rule allowing for summary judgment where there is no genuine issue for trial, and the proposed revisions that would allow for an issue to be settled by way of mini-trial.


Ontario Superior Court of Justice

Body Responsible:
Ministry of the Attorney General

January 1, 1985: Rule 20 came into force
November 2007: Civil Justice Reform Project summary of findings and recommendations released
December 2008: Changes to Rules of Civil Procedure announced
January 1, 2010: Rule changes come into effect

Supreme Court to Weigh in on Ontario’s Summary Judgment Rule
Rule 20 of the Rules of Civil Procedure
Resolving Lawsuits Faster And More Affordably

Description of Reforms:
Rule 20 of the Rules of Civil Procedure governs motions for summary judgment. It provides a mechanism in cases where there is “no genuine issue for trial” for all or part of a claim to be disposed of in a summary manner without a full trial. The primary inquiry on a motion for summary judgment is whether there is a dispute over a material fact that requires resolution by trial. The onus rests on the party seeking summary judgment to establish that there is no genuine issue for trial. Specific cost consequences automatically apply where a party seeking summary judgment does not succeed or where a party acted in bad faith or for the purpose of delay.

The revisions to Rule 20 are potentially the most significant of all the new amendments. The court’s powers on the motion are expanded to permit a judge (though not a master) to weigh evidence, evaluate the credibility of a deponent and draw any reasonable inference from the evidence. A new mini-trial power permits a judge to order the hearing of oral evidence on a motion for summary judgment where the interests of justice require a brief trial to dispose of the summary judgment motion. The substantially revised rule on “where trial is necessary” gives the court much greater powers and effectively permits such cases to enter a form of case management. The presumption of substantial indemnity costs against an unsuccessful moving party in a summary judgment motion in rule 20.06 has been eliminated and replaced with a rule conferring permissive authority on the court to impose substantial indemnity costs.

Revision History:
This summary was last reviewed in May 27, 2013