Summary judgment is a remedy that may foreshorten legal proceedings. It is achieved by way of a motion in court. Evidence is led by way of affidavit. The affidavit evidence may be tested by cross-examinations. At a trial evidence is introduced by oral testimony of witnesses. Oral evidence will usually take up more time. A plea for summary judgment can only be brought after the parties have produced the documents in their possession that are relevant to the matters in issue. It can take place at an early stage of the proceedings. As a result costs are saved as it may not be necessary to engage in oral discovery, production of additional documents, mediation, pre-trial conference and trial. Generally speaking a motion will also occupy less time than a trial.
Summary Judgments can Avoid the Cost of Trial
Expenses may be saved by moving for judgment. This procedure will be successful only if the court is satisfied that there is no genuine issue for trial with respect to a claim or defense. It may be brought with respect to all or part of a claim. The motions court judge is allowed to weigh the evidence, evaluate credibility and draw reasonable inferences. However if the judge is not able to have a full appreciation of the issues based on the affidavit evidence then a trial will be required.
An unsuccessful motion for summary judgment may still produce cost savings as the court may make an order specifying what material facts are not in dispute and define the issues to be tried. On the motion the court may also order the trial to proceed expeditiously.
While a motion for summary judgment can result in the savings of legal costs a party that acts unreasonably in making or responding to the motion may be penalized by the court by way of a costs order. This may also occur if a party acted in bad faith for the purpose of delay.