(Civil procedure) The term summary judgment refers to a court order ruling that no issues of material facts remain to be tried and, therefore, a cause of action or all causes of action in a complaint can be decided upon certain facts without trial.

A summary judgment is based upon a motion by one of the parties that contends that all necessary factual issues are settled or so one-sided they need not be tried. The motion is supported by declarations under oath, excerpts from depositions which are under oath, admissions of fact and other discovery, as well as a legal argument (points and authorities), that argue that there are no triable issues of fact and that the settled facts require a summary judgment for the moving party.

The opposing party will respond by counter-declarations and legal arguments attempting to show that there are “triable issues of fact.” If it is unclear whether there is a triable issue of fact in any cause of action, then summary judgment must be denied as to that cause of action. The theory behind the summary judgment process is to eliminate the need to try settled factual issues and to decide without tried one or more causes of action in the complaint. The pleading procedures are extremely technical and complicated and are particularly dangerous to the party against whom the motion is made.