What Happens after a Motion for Summary Judgment is Granted

The justice system can be confusing and intimidating at times because of how complex and vast it is. There is so much terminology to get to grips with that cases can become a bit mind-boggling. One such term is a motion for summary judgment which is when a case is brought to an end without needing to continue with the full trial. In this article, we’ll be talking you through everything you need to know about summary judgments starting with what they are, how to apply for one, what happens during the hearings and concluding with what the judge can order.

Why do people apply for a summary judgment?

Filing motions for summary judgments has numerous advantages. They can reduce the amount of time spent on the case. If the motion for summary judgment is made in one’s favor, then that means ne has to cut down the months of preparing for a full trial down to a matter of weeks. Also, the amount of legal costs will be heavily reduced and no attendance is required at court, reducing the amount of stress you may feel about the court case in general.

There are a couple of downsides to consider before filing a motion for summary judgment such as not knowing whether you will succeed. The amount of time you have to put into your motion for summary judgment request. This is because subsequent hearing isn’t a guaranteed win and can detract from your time spent on the full trial should that be forced to go ahead.

Also, if you’re not successful then you have to think of the additional costs that a motion for summary judgment plus a full trial is going to total up to. That being said, motions for summary judgment are usually requested when the party is absolutely sure of success. Moreover, attorneys would advise otherwise should they think there wasn’t a good chance of it going in your favor.

Purpose for motion for summary judgment

Motions for summary judgments are most commonly used in debt cases when a debtor has a strong case against their defense who may be far behind in payments. To avoid having to waste time going through a trial that they will most likely win. Further, the debtor will file a motion for summary judgment to have the case settled immediately without having to go on to a full trial. Once the judge grants the request, the defense will be given a cost that they will have to pay.

Motions for summary judgment can be passed during any kind of proceedings. They are usually carried out by the prosecution when the defense hasn’t got a strong case. They are also filed when the defense hasn’t filed anything. When considering a motion for summary judgment, the court has to be completely satisfied that there is no other alternative to the outcome of the case.


When a motion for summary judgment date is set, the other party is entitled to at least 14 days to gather evidence for their counterargument and must submit this at least 7 days before the hearing. Overall, a motion for summary judgment will last between 6 and 8 weeks which, compared to a full trial, is a lot less time.

How to apply for a summary judgment

When requesting a summary judgment, the claimant must ensure that they have concrete evidence against the opposition that is based completely on fact. If it’s discovered that the claimant is providing false or exaggerated information then they will be charged themselves so it’s crucial that the summary judgment request is thorough.

Once the request has been filed, the defense must then present an argument as to why the case should go to trial. The defense can call on important witnesses that they may not have previously been able to get a hold of. As no oral testimony can be given during the hearing of a motion for summary judgment, both parties will need to submit their written evidence giving their side of the case. This can be a collection of testimonies from various witnesses, police reports and overviews of other evidence that cannot be presented.

What happens at the summary judgment hearing?

Although it may seem like it, the motion for summary judgment hearing isn’t a condensed version of the full trial. Rather, both sides need to present evidence as to why the trial should or shouldn’t go ahead. It can be easy to get caught up in the specifics of the case. However, knowing what evidence to put forward is a huge part of the preparation for a motion for summary judgment hearing.

The claimant has already made their application and given their evidence as to why a motion for summary judgment should be granted so at the hearing. It is mainly about hearing the other party and why they oppose this. Despite being called a summary judgment, they can take some time to be filed and decided as the court has to be 100% certain if they plan to end the case before taking it to a full trial.

Also, it is important to note that no oral evidence may be given so ensuring that everything you want to express is on paper is of the utmost importance. If you have a strong witness that you have not been able to get a hold of, you can write about that in the summary judgment hearing documents.

What happens after the hearing?

Once the hearing of the motion for summary judgment is over, it is up to the judge to decide whether to end the case there and then or proceed to the trial. They can judge in favor of the claimant or dismiss the request as well as granting conditional orders. A conditional order can demand that one side pays a certain amount before the full trial or following a specific step when it comes to presenting their case in the trial. Conditional orders are given when the case meets a grey area and the judge requires more information from one or both parties.

When the summary judgment has been granted, the trial will be concluded meaning that you don’t have to deal with the stresses that come with a full trial. If the judgment settlement was brought by a debtor, for example, the settlement figure demanded may be a lot less than if it was demanded at a full trial.

Tips of winning a motion for summary judgment

  1. Start early

Expert lawyering requires preparation, discipline and aggression, and that’s especially true at the summary judgment stage, which should be on attorneys’ minds from the very first day of a case if they expect to win it. Some lawyers have stated that there are some cases where there are slight chances of winning. However, there is a possibility of winning a motion for summary judgment.

A lawyer should make their own probabilities means mastering the record from the outset. To win a motion for summary judgment, a lawyer should adopt some mechanisms. Such include planning one’s depositions, conducting discovery and expert witnesses with an eye toward meeting the strict standard of summary judgment and having the discipline to focus solely on the issues that matter most to winning your case.

Moreover, the standard aspect to be achieved in a motion for summary judgment is that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact. Therefore, ‘material’ falls into planning and ‘genuine issue’ falls into discipline. In order to successfully plan for and get to motion for summary judgment stage and ultimately get the result you want. To secure a win in a motion for summary judgment, one has to plan for it from the beginning of the case.

  1. Play offense

Attorneys should take a reactive approach to cases, allowing their adversaries to build the record and develop legal theories before preparing a relevant defense in the motion for summary judgment.  However, such kind of reactive approach is a recipe for disaster. It is especially crippling for winning a motion for summary judgment because so much of convincing a judge to forego a trial requires developing overwhelming evidence favorable to your side. One has to say to yourself from the beginning of the case: Okay, what are the elements of the causes of action here? And what can I do to say these critical elements are not and cannot be made out? One also

needs to understand what’s material to the claims or defenses in the case.

Further, to win a motion for summary judgment, one needs to know that from day one, because only then can you make sure that the facts you need are in the record. An offensive approach to motion for summary judgment requires diligent discovery planning. Moreover, to win a summary judgment, it helps to have the facts in one’s favor, but a lot of that depends on what your discovery plan is and how one goes about developing that discovery.

Moreover, the diligence and offensive approach in surviving a summary judgment includes taking important depositions. Advocates should also take key depositions early enough.  This is because when one takes a deposition early and catch a witness or a counsel in a position where they’re not really focused on what the critical points are going to be and you may get some very key admissions in an early deposition that’s going to help you on a motion for summary judgment. Indeed, gaining key admissions early can help a person side even when those admissions are not enough to win the summary judgment.

  1. Don’t forget the jury instructions

Anticipating the questions that the jury will confront in your case is an excellent strategy to survive a motion for summary judgment. The preceding can be backed by the majority of legal experts told. Jury instructions also focus on the most essential unresolved matters in a litigation and developing evidence and building arguments to resolve those questions before they reach a jury is essential to penning a persuasive summary judgment brief.

Furthermore, before an attorney prepares a motion for summary judgment, they should look at the jury instructions. This is to make sure that one knows the elements are to each of the claims and defenses and that there are no material facts in dispute as to each of those elements. Because if you can’t knock out all of the elements, then you’re not going to survive a summary judgment.

Jury instructions highlight the main issues of the case and building a record to bolster your side’s take on those issues should be your primary purpose. Jury instructions are the last thing that happens in a case, but they should be the first thing you’re thinking of in order to survive a motion for summary judgment. Hence one should think from the very onset of the jury instructions. This because the they form the basis of the ultimate tier of facts and one’s decision of whether to grant the summary judgment. A party has to internalize that from the beginning and say, “I know that’s the target I’m aiming at in building the record.”

The goal has to be to proffer only those facts that are absolutely essential to your motion and not be lulled into the thinking that you’re going to overpower the judge with a number of facts that are undisputed. The main aspect that a party has to prove to succeed in a summary judgment is quality not quantity. One should also keep it simple. This should be one’s mantra for oral argument as well.

The briefing is also absolutely critical to frame the issue for the court. But that having been said, one must in the oral argument resist the temptation to address everything the other side says and to answer every point.











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