What is an appeal?
It is the right of an individual to apply for the wrong decision of the court to be reviewed by a higher court and possibly be quashed. Such a right is not automatic. There must be substantial procedural or other irregularity which will give rise to appeal. The aim of appeal is to correct the wrong decision and so to avoid miscarriage of justice. An appeal must be allowed by a higher court. It is therefore necessary to prove that there was some kind of misunderstanding of the law, evidence or facts. Sometimes one of the parties obtains fresh evidence, this is not normally allowed by an appeal court but if the party can show that this evidence was relevant and credible but not possible to be obtained for the hearing at a lower court then fresh evidence will be allowed.
Structure of the courts
County Court (District Judge) decision can be appealed to Court of Appeal or to County Court (Circuit Judge). County Court (Circuit Judge decision) can be appealed to Court of Appeal or to High Court Judge. A decision from a High Court Master or District Judge can be appealed to High Court Judge or Court of Appeal. A decision from a High Court Judge can be appealed to Court of Appeal or House of Lords, and the decision from the Court of Appeal can be appealed to House of Lords. All depends on the type of claim. E.g. if the claim is multi track the decision from a lower court can be made to Court of Appeal as stated above. However there is a possibility that the lower court will transfer the appeal to the Court of Appeal if the matter is complex and if it is highly important. This is however very exceptional and occasional.
There is a need for a permission from a higher court in order to be able to appeal. There is a time limit of 21 days within which a party can appeal. Time limitations relating to appeals from Court of Appeal to House of Lords is 1 month from the date when the order was made or 3 months if permission is granted form Court of Appeal.
The permission can be granted by a lower court or appeal court and there are two grounds for the appeal to be granted. According to Civil Procedure Rules CPR 52.3 the appeal must have a real prospect of success and there is some other compelling reason why the appeal should be granted. There are a few exceptions when there is no need for a permission to be granted. If the lower court allows the appeal when it made the decision, the application to appeal should be made orally, if the appeal was not granted, the applicant should apply to appeal court in the form of appellant’s notice. The appeal court will then consider the application, if this is refused the appellant has the right for this application to be reconsidered orally however if this is refused there is no further right to appeal against this decision.
An appellant’s notice must be filled within a certain time limit and it must be on form N161. This must contain grounds of appeal. The court will then decide whether it will grant the permission. Sufficient copies of the notice will be necessary for the Respondent. Other important documents will be required to be supplied e.g. a copy of the lower court order etc. Practice Direction 52 in the Civil Procedure rules book lists all necessary documents which will be required to be submitted together with the appellant’s notice. The hearing will then take place if the permission is granted. The Respondent will have to file a respondent’s notice too if he wants to appeal against the decision made by an appeal court or if he wants the decision from the lower court to be upheld. There are several procedural requirements which have to be followed and complied with in accordance with Civil Procedure Rules particularly CPR part 52 rule 5.
The powers of the appeal court
According to Civil Procedure rules CPR part 52 rule 10 the court has the power to affirm, set aside, vary any order or judgment which was made by a lower court, the appeal court can also order a new trial, refer the claim, make any cost orders. Appeal from the appeal courts can be made to the Court of Appeal. In this case there will be a need for permission from the Court of Appeal. Appeals from the Court of Appeal to the House of Lords will also require the permission from the Court of Appeal. In very specific circumstances and occasionally there can be an appeal from the High Court to the House of Lords. In such case again the permission in form of a certificate will be required from the High Court to appeal to the House of Lords. This procedure is known as leapfrog and is a very rare exception. The Respondent has several options. He can be satisfied with the decision and can make no objection to it therefore he wants this to be upheld, the Respondent may on the other hand want to uphold the decision for some other reasons than normally stated, or he may want to vary the judgment.
European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR)
If there was a violation of human rights a person can make a claim in ECtHR in Strasbourg (France). In order to make a claim here the person must exhaust all domestic remedies. ECtHR is not an appeal court. Such an application can be made 6 months from the decision from domestic proceedings.
European Court of Justice
European Court of Justice is in Luxembourg. It is a body who makes decisions and controls the acts done by member states of European Union in accordance with European Regulations and Directives. If violation of these occurs, the state may be sued at this court.