Summary Trials in BC Wills Variation Cases

Summary Trials

BC Supreme Court Summary Trials

Summary Trials in BC Wills Variation Cases

Litigation can at times move through the courts at a pace that can feel glacial to the interested parties. There are an overwhelming numbers of cases in the Court system in British Columbia today and obtaining trial dates can cause significant delay in resolving estate disputes. One option provided for in the Supreme Court Civil Rules is called a Summary Trial.

Summary Trials are hearings before a Judge where the evidence that is presented is typically by way of affidavits only and it is often a way to find a more expedient resolution.

Summary Trials for Estate Disputes

In the case of Ciarniello v. James, 2015 BCSC 2148 a female spouse sought a variation of her late husband’s will. Although the parties wished to proceed by way of Summary Trial, the Court determined that there were insufficient facts to make the findings required. The Honourable Mr. Justice J. Sigurdson (Vancouver) made the following comments in setting out the test for whether a case should be determined by Summary Trial:

Determining Suitability for BC Summary Trials

[14] An initial question is whether this case is suitable for summary trial.

[15] I must determine whether I am able to find the facts necessary to decide the issues in this case or whether it would be unjust to give judgment. Inspiration Management Ltd. v. McDermid St. Lawrence Ltd., 1989 CanLII 2728 (BC CA), [1989] B.C.J. No. 1003 (C.A.) is the leading decision on the appropriateness of summary trial. Chief Justice McEachern stated the relevant factors for consideration in deciding if it is unjust to give judgment on a summary trial:

[49] In deciding whether it will be unjust to give judgment the chambers judge is entitled to consider, inter alia, the amount involved, the complexity of the matter, its urgency, any prejudice likely to arise by reason of delay, the cost of taking the case forward to a conventional trial in relation to the amount involved, the course of the proceedings and any other matters which arise for consideration on this important question.

Summary Trials are very useful tools in estate disputes but are not always appropriate in every case.

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Contact our Wills Variation Lawyers in Vancouver BC

From small claims to the supreme court, the Kushner Law Group in Vancouver B.C. has extensive experience representing clients in wills variation and civil litigation cases.

If you are involved in an estate dispute or believe that you have been unfairly left out of a will, please contact the Kushner Law Group today at 604-629-0432 to schedule a consultation.

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