A Nail in the Coffin of Coffey? Summary Judgment and Employment Law in Alberta
The Case of Coffey v. Nine Energy 2018 ABQB898 had the effect of removing summary judgment as a remedy in Employment Law in Alberta for determining pay in lieu of notice. Summary Judgment is a way of deciding a case with affidavit evidence without having a full trial. It can be a much cheaper mechanism for deciding things. As a lawyer practicing in this area, the decision was disappointing as it appeared to remove a mechanism for obtaining justice in this Province.
Master Schlosser has come out with a well reasoned rebuttal to Coffey in the case of Kubersky v Pomeroy (Pomeroy Group), 2021 ABQB 173. We hope that his analysis proves definitive, but the decision is at the Masters level and therefore not the final say within Alberta. To read the case you can click here: https://www.canlii.org/en/ab/abqb/doc/2021/2021abqb173/2021abqb173.html
The Master pointed out that Coffey was decided before the Alberta Court of Appeal came out. He disagreed with the Coffey analysis on Masters' jurisdiction in deciding Summary Judgment. He pointed out that Coffey forbade weighing evidence, without defining what that meant. Such a prohibition on weighing evidence could have widespread, unintended consequences, as weighing evidence is part of the duties of masters, provincial court judges and members of boards and tribunals.
We believe that this decision is the right one, and are hopeful that the higher levels of court follow this reasoning, as it will facilitate access to justice for wrongly terminated employees.
If you discuss this or any other matter, please feel free to contact us.
The information contained in this article is not legal advice. No solicitor client relationship is formed through this article. The reader is encouraged to retain counsel for advice in these matters