Civil Court Appeal

civil court appeal

Civil Court Appeal Process

In most civil legal disputes, including commercial cases, the outcome is uncertain. This often means both parties in a civil legal dispute are wondering if and how they can appeal if they lose the case.

If either party loses their legal dispute, they then have to consider whether or not to appeal the outcome and begin the court appeal process. An appeal is where the losing party asks the court to reconsider the ruling of the lower court – either in whole or in part.

Civl Court Appeal.jpg

Civil Court Appeal Process

In most civil legal disputes, including commercial cases, the outcome is uncertain. This often means both parties in a civil legal dispute are wondering if and how they can appeal if they lose the case.

If either party loses their legal dispute, they then have to consider whether or not to appeal the outcome and begin the court appeal process. An appeal is where the losing party asks the court to reconsider the ruling of the lower court – either in whole or in part.

Although some appeals may be brought because there is an automatic right to appeal, most decisions can only be appealed with the court’s permission. This is termed ‘leave of the court.

What is the civil court appeals process?

Rulings of a county court district judge can be appealed to county court circuit judges, and if a higher court appeal is required, ultimately to the Court of Appeal.

First instance rulings from the lower courts are appealed to the High Court.

First instance rulings of the High Court are appealed to the Court of Appeal and only on rare occasions do they proceed to the Supreme Court. Any court appeal to the Supreme Court will need the permission of either the Court of Appeal or the Supreme Court.

If your court appeal is heading for either the Court of Appeal or the Supreme Court, then it is going to be getting very expensive! 

Are there any time limits for bringing a civil court appeal?

An appeal is started by filing an appeal notice which must be done within 21 days of the date of the first instance decision of the lower court. Once this appeal notice has been filed, it must then be served on each opponent / respondent as soon as possible, and certainly within seven days after being filed.

How can we obtain leave to appeal?

With only three small exceptions, leave or permission to appeal is always required before you can bring an appeal.

The overarching test that must be reached before court permission is granted is whether the court considers the appeal would have a realistic chance of success; or there is some other compelling reason why the appeal should be heard, for example the judge erred in some matter of fact or law.

The detailed court appeal process

The party that is bringing the appeal is now called the appellant. The appellant’s court appeal notice must be served on any respondents within the time frame mentioned above.

Legal arguments called skeleton arguments are required for all civil court appeals. A skeleton argument will detail the appellant’s case, and is the appellant’s opportunity to show the judge or judges the potential prospects of success of their legal dispute if an appeal were permitted.

A copy of the appellant’s skeleton argument must be served at the same time as the appeal notice, along with any other relevant documents that must also be served on the respondent.

No response is required from the other party unless and until permission is granted.

 

Is there another court hearing to hear my appeal request?

There may not be another hearing to hear your court appeal request, as the application can often be dealt with in writing alone. If leave (permission) is granted, an appeal hearing date will be set. This appeal is not a re-hearing of the whole legal dispute, but just a review of the ultimate decision made.

In many cases, the appeal court will only allow an appeal where the decision of the lower court was either wrong in law or on the facts, or it was seriously wrong (unjust) because of a serious procedural or other irregularity in the proceedings in the lower court.

What will happen at the appeal hearing?

The court can either refuse the appeal, or uphold the request, or set aside or change the initial order or judgment, and can even refer the dispute back to the lower courts. It can also order a new trial or hearing if necessary.