Delay and Civil Litigation

Trial delays are a long-standing issue in the justice system. The latest amendment to Manitoba’s Queen’s Bench Rules, effective January 1, 2018,  addresses that head on. A recent Alberta Court of Appeal decision, Humphreys v. Trebilcock, 2017 ABCA 116 (leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed) thoroughly examines this issue. 

The plaintiffs commenced their action, a claim that the defendants engaged in fraudulent business practices, on December 14, 2006. A trial would not likely take place until 2020.

[175]      The plaintiffs have not provided a satisfactory excuse to account for their failure to press their action ahead with reasonable expedition. They do not allege that the defendants have engaged in acts either intended or having the effect of interfering with the ordinary advance of the action.

[176]      Has the inordinate and inexcusable delay for which the plaintiffs are responsible impaired an important interest of the defendants? If so, is it sufficiently important to justify an order dismissing the plaintiffs’ action?

[177]      The moving parties have proved that it is more likely than not that the nonmoving parties’ inordinate and inexcusable delay has caused them nonlitigation and litigation prejudice.

Further commentary is available on Lexology:

Unanimous Supreme Court of Canada Denies Leave on Chronic Delay Case, Dalton W. McGrath and Michael O’Brien of Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP