Guide to civil appeals
To appeal, you'll need to use many more resources.
What is an appeal?
An appeal is when someone who loses a case in a trial court asks a higher court (the appellate court) to review the trial court's decision
In almost all cases, the appellate court only looks at two things:
- Whether a legal mistake was made in the trial court
- Whether this mistake changed the final decision (called the "judgment") in the case
An appeal is not:
- A new trial with witnesses or a jury
- A chance to go to court and present your case all over again in front of a different judge
- A chance to present new evidence or new witnesses
The appellate court only reviews what happened in the trial court to decide if a legal mistake was made in the original trial. For example, to see if the trial court judge applied the wrong law to the facts of the case.
The appellate court cannot change the trial court's decision just because the appellate court judges (called justices in the Court of Appeal) disagree with it
The trial court is entitled to hear the evidence and come to its own decision. The appellate court can only reverse the trial court's decision if it finds a legal mistake in the trial court proceedings that was so important that it changed at least part of the outcome of the case. Because of this heavy burden on the appellant to prove this type of mistake, it is quite difficult to win an appeal.
Filing an appeal does not stop the trial court's order
Unless you ask the trial or appellate court to postpone ("stay") the trial court's order, you must do what the trial court's order requires you to do during the appeal. A request for a stay can be complicated, and you may still have to pay some of the money ordered by the trial court upfront. Ask a lawyer if one of these options would be good in your case and get help. But remember that an appeal is not a way to put off having to comply with the trial court's order.
If you're considering an appeal, read through each section to get an idea of your options and what you'll have to do if you do decide to appeal. Appeals are very complicated, so also talk to a lawyer.
Appellate court basics
Get an overview of which court decides an appeal, what they decide, and how they make decisions.
Options other than appealing
Appealing may be an option for you. But, you may have other options that meet your needs. Find out more about these other options.
Steps to appeal
If you do decide to appeal, find out what steps you'll need to take and what to expect throughout the process.