C.A. Adopts Master Beaudoin’s Test for Setting Aside Registrar’s Dismissal Order

In Scaini v. Prochnicki, the Ontario Court of Appeal reviewed the jurisprudence dealing with setting aside an order made by the registrar of the Superior Court, dismissing an action for failure to place it on a trial list within two years after the filing of a statement of defence. In the decision appealed from, the court had identified four criteria for setting aside a registrar’s dismissal order, made under Rule 48.14(1) and had concluded that there are four, all of which must be satisfied. In this case, the motions judge concluded that the plaintiff had met three of the requirements, but not the fourth (“explanation of the litigation delay”).

In allowing the appeal, the Court of Appeal agreed with Master Robert Beaudoin, in Steele v. Ottawa-Carleton (Regional Municipality), that the principle guiding the court in such cases is as follows:

Ultimately, the Court will exercise its discretion upon a consideration of the relevant factors and will attempt to balance the interests of the parties. 

The Court accepted that there are factors which will govern the exercise of discretion, but did not agree that there are only four, nor that the factors will necessarily be the same from case to case. Rather, it advocated a “contextual” analysis to do justice in each set of circumstances.

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