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.
For more information on:
- The powers of the appeal court
- European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR)
- European Court of Justice