Can a Judge Reconsider a Decision Where It Appears That a Mistake Was Made?

Generally, When a Judicial Decision Is Rendered the Matter Is Considered Final and May Be Corrected Only Upon An Appeal to a Higher Court. Only In Rare Circumstances, Such As When the Error Is Obvious and All Parties Involved Agree to a Reconsideration, Will a Judge Review a Prior Decision.

Understanding When It May Be Appropriate to Ask a Judge to Reconsider a Court Decision

Lawsuit Document The legal process that involves the court making a judicial decision is intended to finalize matters in dispute. Accordingly, once a case is decided the law expects that all involved will respect the decision, including any mistakes within the decision, unless taken by Appeal to a higher court.  As such, it is very rare that a Judge will reconsider a decision.

The Law

Although a court, generally, is empowered inherently to control its process, and is therefore empowered to review a rendered decision, whether a court should actually review a decision is highly questionable and is likely to occur only when all parties agree that a decision contained obvious errors and is in need of reconsideration.  This view was well explained in Gupta v. Lindal Cedar Homes Ltd., 2020 ONSC 7524 where it was specifically stated:

[6]  The court has an inherent jurisdiction to adjust a litigation result after judgment in some circumstances, other than through proper appellate review or as contemplated by r. 59.06.  However, this should occur only in “unusual and rare circumstances where the interests of justice compel such a result”: Susin v. Chapman, [2004] O.J. No. 2935 (C.A.), at para. 10.  Finality in litigation is to be encouraged and fostered.  The discretion to re-open a matter should be resorted to “sparingly and with the greatest care”: 671122 Ontario Ltd. v. Sagaz Industries Canada Inc., 2001 SCC 59 (CanLII), [2001] 2 S.C.R. 983, at para. 61.

[7]  In Schmuck v. Reynolds-Schmuck (2000), 2000 CanLII 22323 (ON SC), 46 O.R. (3d) 702 (S.C.J.) at para. 25, Himel, J. emphasized the limited circumstances in which a reconsideration should occur, stating: “It is my view that a party who wishes a reconsideration would have to establish that the integrity of the litigation process is at risk unless it occurs, or that there is some principle of justice at stake that overrides the value of finality in litigation, or that some miscarriage of justice would occur if such a reconsideration did not take place.

[8]  In Gore Mutual Insurance Co. v. 1443249 Ontario Ltd., (2004) 2004 CanLII 27736 (ON SC), 70 O.R. (3d) 404 (“Gore”), at paras. 7-8, Karakatsanis, J. (as she then was) was prepared to re-open her decision in a situation where it was “obvious an error was made by all counsel and by the court.”  It was a “case of a clear error.”  It was “obvious” that the statutory provision now raised would have changed her determination and all counsel conceded that the provision previously relied upon had no application to the case.  Karakatsanis, J. concluded at para. 8 that the “interests of justice are not served by requiring an appeal on a clear error of law that followed inaccurate and incomplete legal submissions of counsel.

[9]  In Scott, Pichelli & Easter Ltd. et al. v. Dupont Developments Ltd. et al., 2019 ONSC 6789, Sossin, J. (as he then was) noted at para. 13 that a “motion for reconsideration is more likely to be successful where the parties agree that an error has occurred, and less likely to be successful where the subject matter of the alleged error remains contested by the parties.”

As stated within the Gupta case, generally, a judicial reconsideration is unlikely unless all parties involved agree that a judicial error occurred and that a reconsideration is a just means to seek a correction of the error.

Summary Comment

When a court renders a judicial decision the issues in dispute are, generally, deemed final unless reversed or corrected via the appeal process; however, where the parties involved agree that the decision contains an obvious error and that a request to reconsider is a just way to remedy the error, although very rare, it is possible that a court will reconsider.

Need Help? Let's Get Started Today

ATTENTION: Do not send any confidential information through this web form.  Use this web form only to make an introduction.

For more information, fill out the form below to send a direct inquiry to DK Legal Practice

ATTENTION: Confidential details about your case must not be sent through this website.  Use of this website does not establish a legal-representative/client relationship.  Do not include confidential details about your case by email or phone.  Use this website only for an introduction with a DK Legal Practice representative. 
Privacy Policy & Cookies | Terms of Use Your IP Address is:
DK Legal Practice

700 Dorval Drive, Suite 700
Oakville, Ontario,
L6K 3V3

P: (416) 906-6663

Business Hours:

09:00AM - 05:00PM
09:00AM - 05:00PM
09:00AM - 05:00PM
09:00AM - 05:00PM
09:00AM - 05:00PM

By appointment only.  Please call for details.

Sign Up