The SCC’s decision in Hryniak v. Mauldin
last year was expected
to foster a cultural shift
on the effective use of judicial resources, in particular in areas like Toronto where courts are cluttered with arguably needless motions. Justice Karakatsanis stated,
 Increasingly, there is recognition that a culture shift is required in order to create an environment promoting timely and affordable access to the civil justice system…  Summary judgment motions provide one such opportunity…
 To that end, I conclude that summary judgment rules must be interpreted broadly, favouring proportionality and fair access to the affordable, timely and just adjudication of claims.
This assumption has not been empirically tested or assessed to my knowledge, until now.
Ted Tjaden and Matthew Karabus recently released an article in The Advocates’ Quarterly, The Impact of Hryniak v Maudlin on Summary Judgments in Canada One Year Later, which summarizes the 460 decisions citing Hyrniak. The authors conclude that Hyrniak may actually be having its intended effect,
…a culture shift is indeed underway with close to 75% of summary judgments motions in Ontario being granted or upheld, with the impact outside of Ontario being more diffuse due in part to differences to summary disposition regimes in these other jurisdictions.
Out of the 217 decisions examined in Ontario, “partial summary judgment was granted or confirmed in 21 decisions (9.7%) and full summary judgment was granted or confirmed in 140 decisions (64.5%), resulting in 74.2% of Ontario decisions in the past year allowing full or partial summary judgment. In 56 decisions (25.8%), the court held that the matter was not appropriate for summary judgment due to genuine issues requiring a trial.”
The authors compare this to studies
on the the pre-Hyrniak
regime on summary judgments, which show that combined success rates on summary judgement motions between 2009-2012 was only in the range of about 65%, suggesting an increase by about 10%. A useful summary is contained within the article about the Ontario motions where summary judgement was granted, and those that were not.
Where summary judgement was refused in Ontario, judges have been slower to remain seized or case manage the matters,
In the past year in the Ontario Superior Court in the 69 decisions in which a motion for summary judgment was dismissed (due to there being genuine issues) or only partial summary judgment was granted, the motions judge did not address whether he or she would be seized of the remaining issues in 31 of those decisions (45%) or decided to not be seized in 10 decisions (15%) (most often due to the judge being “on circuit” or not having gained any particular knowledge of the matter), with trial judges being seized in only 28 decisions (40%). Likewise, some form of case management or directions was given in only 29 decisions (42%) or was decided as being unnecessary in 4 decisions (6%), meaning that in 36 decisions (52%), the motions judge was silent on case-managing the remaining issues or providing directions to counsel and the litigants.
The impact of Hryniak outside of Ontario is difficult to assess given the differences in the Rules of Civil Procedure. The provinces outside of Ontario who cite Hryniak the most are Alberta and B.C.
This detailed review of how Hyrniak has been extensively employed by courts over one short year is a thorough and exhaustive revelation of where civil litigation may go in the years to come. If civil trials are already scarce today, they may become scarcer still as the courts take the initiative to ensure only those matters which need a trial genuinely hold one.