My boss, Izzat, once told me a story about how he won an application after barely a minute of submission. It’s something I wished happened to me in my career but has not yet come my way.
It was a summary judgment application pursuant to order 14 of the Rules of High Court 1980.
A summary judgment is a ‘short cut’ procedure for claims that are straightforward. In such cases a court will not call for a trial. The court allows a summary judgment application against a defendant if the plaintiff’s claim is clear and the defendant has no defence to the claim, or there is no issue that requires a trial of the evidence. If the plaintiff wins a summary judgment application, the case ends there, with a judgment for the plaintiff against the defendant.
Izzat was for the defendant. He turned up at the hearing with nothing. The plaintiff’s counsel attended and submitted at length. He took the registrar through the affidavits and exhibits, explained the claim and concluded with a submission that since the defendant filed no affidavit in reply, they are taken to concede the summary judgment application. After he was done the senior assistant registrar turned to Izzat.
“Anything to say, counsel?”
“Just one point, Puan. The application is incompetent. It was filed before the defendant entered an appearance; that is a breach of Order 14 rule 1(1) of the rules. The application should be struck out.”
“Ha?” She turned to the plaintiff’s counsel, “Counsel, is this correct?”
After he flipped through his papers, the plaintiff counsel said, “The defendant’s appearance was filed after the application, Puan.”
“Ha! Better read your rules better next time, counsel. Your application is struck out with costs. Thank you.”