Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Slip Rule Definition:

A rule by which a Court can very exceptionally reopen a published order but only to correct a accidental slip or omission such as a clerical error.

Even though a court or judge may, upon issue of an order or judgment, be functus officio, that does not extend to the ability to correct an accidental slip or omission in the order or judgment so issued.

Jurisdictions vary as to the extent of discretion their respective rules of procedure give the court under the slip rule.

For example, the Newfoundland Rules of the Supreme Court provide (as of 2008):

"Clerical mistakes in decisions or orders, or errors arising therein from any accidental mistake or omission, or an amendment to provide for any matter which should have but was not adjudicated upon, may at any time be corrected or granted by the Court, without appeal."

As Master Hanesbury stated in Inform Cycle Ltd. v Rebound Inc.:

"The purpose of the slip rule is to correct clerical errors. It ensures that clerical mistakes can be corrected without the need for an appeal. It cannot be used to redo an application."

Some jurisdictions give the court wide powers, even as to addressing a matter of substance, where it is necessary to otherwise make sense or to complete the original order, as wide as to provide for any matter which should have - but was not - adjudicated upon.

For example, in United Mexican States v Metalclad Corporation, a British Columbia judge reviewed his own order in agreeing, with reference to the slip rule, to make a decision on a new proposed term that may not have been before it in the first place:

"Two of the circumstances where the court has held that it is appropriate to reopen the proceedings is (i) where the judge fails to deal with a matter which had been brought to the judge’s attention by one of the parties (ii) where one of the parties should have drawn to the attention of the judge a matter which affects the consequences of the primary decision.

"In my view, whether the blame for failing to properly refer the outstanding issue ... falls on me or counsel for Metalclad, this is an appropriate case to correct the Order flowing from the Reasons for Judgment."

The application to correct an existing order cannot go to a matter of substance unless the error is clear from the record.

Whether the rules of court provide for slip rule authority or not, the power to so act is based on common law and is part of the inherent jurisdiction of the court.


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