Step 10: Appealing a Judge’s Decision
Wills and Probate
Primary Content Source: Ana Corina Lefter
If a party thinks that the judge or court made mistakes regarding the facts or the law in the original hearing, he/she may be able to appeal that judicial decision to a higher court. This means that the appellant can bring a matter for reconsideration to the higher court (the appeal court).
Appeals are normally allowed based on specific grounds and within strict time limits. An appeal may only be brought with the court’s permission, except in certain limited circumstances (CPR 52.3(1)). The grounds for appeal are that the decision of the lower court was either:
i. Wrong (in law or in fact or in the exercise of its discretion), or
ii. Unjust because of a serious irregularity in the procedure adopted by the lower court (CPR 52.11(3)).
As noted in the previous section on ‘Lower Court Hearing/Trial’, probate and inheritance claims are heard in the High Court or County Court. Appeals against the outcome of a hearing in the High Court or County Court are mostly dealt with by the Court of Appeal Civil Division.
The rules for appeals to the Court of Appeal are primarily found in CPR 52 and Practice Directions 52A and 52C (1). The appellant’s notice N161 (2) and the respondent’s notice N162 (3) also contain court-issued guidance notes.
Procedure for appealing and time restrictions
1. An application for permission to appeal must be made either with:
The lower court at which the initial decision was made, or
The appeal court in an appellant’s notice, if the application for permission in the lower court was refused or not made at that stage. It is recommended to make such an application with the lower court first as, in case it is rejected, a second application can be made with the appeal court.
2. The Court of Appeal will decide whether to grant permission without an oral hearing but the appellant can also request a reconsideration of the application at a hearing.
3. The appellant must demonstrate that the appeal has a real prospect of success or that there is a compelling reason why the appeal must be heard (CPR 52/3(6)).
4. Appellant’s Notice N161 (or N164 (4) for small claims) – must be filed within 21 days after the date of the judgment of the lower court, unless the lower court granted an extension (CPR 52.4)
5. Respondent’s Notice N162 – must be filed within 14 days after the date the respondent is served with the appellant’s notice (in case permission to appeal was given by the lower court), or a notification of permission to appeal from the appeal court or a notification that the application for permission to appeal and the appeal itself will be heard together (CPR 52.5(4)-(5))
6. The appellant must also file: copies of the sealed order or the judgment being appealed, the approved transcript of the judgment, the grounds of appeal and the appeal bundle (whose contents should be agreed by both the appellant and respondent).
(1) CPR 52 https://www.justice.gov.uk/courts/procedure-rules/civil/rules/part52; PD 52A https://www.justice.gov.uk/courts/procedure-rules/civil/rules/part52/pd_part52; PD 52C http://www.justice.gov.uk/courts/procedure-rules/civil/rules/part52/practice-direction-52c-appeals-to-the-court-of-appeal; .