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Summary judgment is a legal term which means that a court has made a determination (a judgment) without a full trial. Such a judgment may be issued as to the merits of an entire case, or of specific issues in that case.
In Common Law legal systems, issues of law, that is to say, what the law actually is in a particular case, are decided by the judge, except when jury nullification of the law acts to contravene or complement the instructions or orders of the judge, or other officers of the court. A factfinder has to decide what the facts are and apply the law. In traditional Common Law the factfinder was a jury, but in many jurisdictions the judge now acts as the factfinder as well. It is the factfinder who decides "what really happened," and it is the judge who applies the law to the facts as determined by the factfinder, whether directly or by giving instructions to the jury. Absent an award of summary judgment (or some other type of pretrial dismissal), a lawsuit will ordinarily proceed to trial, which is an opportunity for each party to present evidence in an attempt to persuade the factfinder that such party is saying "what really happened," and that, under the judge's view of applicable law, such party should prevail. For a case to get to trial, the parties have to take various steps (often known as 'discovery'), including disclosing the documents to the opponent by discovery, showing the other side the evidence, often in the form of witness statements and other steps.
Complying with such directions, and going through the trial process is lengthy, can be difficult, and if one employs lawyers, can be costly.
A party moving (applying) for summary judgment is attempting to eliminate its risk of losing at trial, and possibly avoid having to go through the directions by demonstrating to the judge, by sworn statements and documentary evidence, that there are no material issues of fact remaining to be tried. If there's nothing for the jury to decide, then, asks the moving party rhetorically, why have a trial? In its motion (request) for summary judgment, the moving party will also attempt to persuade the court that the undisputed material facts require judgment to be entered in favor of the moving party. In many jurisdictions, a party moving for summary judgment takes the risk that, although the judge may agree there are no material issues of fact remaining for trial, the judge may also find that it is the non-moving party who is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.