Motions for summary judgment using the analytical framework under Rule 20 are still not permitted in the Ontario Small Claims Court. The Court of Appeal in Van de Vrande v. Butkowsky held that jurisprudence emanating from Rule 20 in the Superior Court was inapplicable for small claims because the omission of a similar rule in the Rules of the Small Claims Court was deliberate, and it was not the Court’s role to import it.
However, significant relief can be found in Rule 12.02(1) of the Rules of the Small Claims Court which provides as follows:
The court may, on motion, strike out or amend all or part of any document that,
(a) discloses no reasonable cause of action or defence;
(b) may delay or make it difficult to have a fair trial; or
(c) is inflammatory, a waste of time, a nuisance or an abuse of the court's process.
Under 12.02(2), the Court may stay or dismiss an action, strike out the defence and grant judgment, in the case of a motion, order that the motion be stayed or dismissed, or in all cases impose such terms as are just.
Amendments to the Rule which took effect July 1, 2014 provided the Court authority to stay an action on its own initiative where it appears to be inflammatory, a waste of time, a nuisance or an abuse of the court’s process.
In contrast, the threshold to strike out a pleading in the Superior Court is higher. There, a party can move to strike out a pleading under Rule 21.01(1)(b) on the ground that it discloses no reasonable cause of action or defence but no evidence is allowed. A defendant may also move to stay or dismiss an action under Rule 21.01(3)(d) on the grounds that it is frivolous, vexatious or an abuse of process.
Justice Rouleau in Van de Vrande described the interplay between the rules:
 Conceptually, I view rule 12.02 as being situated somewhere between the Rules 20 and 21 of the Rules of Civil Procedure. It is not a summary judgment motion involving extensive affidavits and a requirement such as contemplated in Rule 20 of the Rules of Civil Procedure where the responding party must put his "best foot forward". It is more akin to a Rule 21 motion, although it is worded more broadly and does not have the same prohibition on the filing of affidavit evidence. It is a motion that is brought in the spirit of the summary nature of Small Claims Court proceedings and involves an analysis of whether a reasonable cause of action has been disclosed or whether the proceeding should be ended at an early stage because its
continuation would be "inflammatory", a "waste of time" or a "nuisance".
 In my view, the references to actions that are inflammatory, a waste of time or a nuisance was intended to lower the very high threshold set by rule 21.01(3)9(d)'s reference to actions that are frivolous, vexatious or an abuse of process.
Practically, this suggests that while motions for summary judgment are unavailable in the Small Claims Court, the power to strike out any document on very broad grounds can lead to the same result before a trial is held.
Menzies Lawyers is a multi-service Ottawa based litigation firm which can assist with a broad range of small claims matters. This blog article by Richard Nishimura is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.