Step 11: Using the Appeal / Higher Courts

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Primary Content Source: Wesley Budler


What is an appeal?

This is a process where a party (the appellant) is seeking to change a judgment or order that was granted against it by a lower court by bringing it to be reconsidered by a higher court (the appeal court).


Court of Appeal

The Court of Appeal, which sits in London at the Royal Courts of Justice, is made up of two divisions:

1. The Civil Division, which hears appeals from:

  • The three divisions of the High Court (Chancery, Queen's Bench and Family Division);

  • The County Courts across England and Wales;

  • Certain Tribunals such as the Employment Appeal Tribunal, the Immigration Appeal Tribunal, the Lands Tribunal and the Social Security Commissioners.

2. The Criminal Division, which hears appeals from the Crown Court.

The Court of Appeal is the highest court within the Senior Courts, which also includes the High Court and Crown Court. It is usually the court of last resort.

The Court of Appeal normally sits in up to 12 courts in the Royal Courts of Justice.

Have a look at this YouTube video on what the Supreme Court is:


There is no single unified legal system in the United Kingdom. Rather there is one system for England and Wales, a second for Scotland, and a third for Northern Ireland.

In most cases, The Supreme Court sits above all of these as the final court of appeal.

Have a look at the diagram using the link below that sets out the Supreme Court and UK’s legal system:


What is the procedure for taking a judgment or order on appeal?

First you need to apply for permission to appeal to either the lower court at the hearing when the decision that you want to appeal was made. The lower court may adjourn the matter to give the appealing party the change to bring an application for permission to appeal or you can file an appeal in the appeal court if the lower court has refused permission for you to appeal (or if you did not apply for permission to appeal to the lower court. It is a good idea to appeal to the judge at the lower court as if permission is refused, you will then get a second chance to appeal for permission to the appeal court.


What documents do I need to submit to court when lodging my notice to appeal?

At least 3 copies of the relevant court notice including:

  • The court fee;

  • The sealed order that is being appealed plus any court order that grants or refuses permission to appeal if applicable;

  • The judgment transcript;

  • The grounds of appeal which should contain the reasons why the court judgment is incorrect or unjust as a result of an irregular procedure; and

  • Skeleton argument which should contain the reasons that support the appeal itself and the main points that you want to argue before the court as well as the reasons why the court judgment was incorrect or unjust as a result of an irregular procedure.


How much does it cost to launch an appeal?

If you are applying for leave to appeal or bringing a full appeal you will need to pay the relevant court fee. If you use a barrister or solicitor you will be responsible for paying their fees too. If you are not successful in your appeal, you may then also have to pay the other party’s costs. You can find information on the relevant costs at


What are the rules relating to costs?

The court has the discretion to decide which party should pay costs and even that costs should only be paid by one party however the general rule is that the unsuccessful party must pay the successful party’s costs.


What are the applicable time limits for appeals?

There are different time limits for different appeals but in all instances the relevant time period starts from the date that the judgment or decision that is being taken on appeal was made. Generally someone who wants to take a matter on appeal has 21 days to file the relevant documents with the court. If you have a look at this link you can get additional information about this here:

If you are late filing your appeal, a court has the discretion to grant you an extension of time however you will need to provide full reasons to the court setting out the reason for the delay in filing the notice of appeal.

Once the appellant ‘s notice has been filed, if the respondent wants to oppose the appeal he must file his notice within 14 days from the date he receives the appellant’s notice where permission to appeal was given by the lower court or notification that the appeal court has given the appellant permission to appeal.


What you need to show the court to obtain permission to appeal

Permission to appeal will only usually be granted where the court is of the view that the appeal will have a real prospect of success or where there is some other compelling reason why the appeal should be heard.


Who will make the decision whether I can go ahead with an appeal?

After you have submitted your documents to the Civil Appeals Court, a judge of the Court of Appeal will review what you have submitted and then decide whether you should be given leave to appeal (permission to appeal).

Do I need a lawyer to represent me if I want to go ahead with an appeal? I would like a lawyer’s help.

The Citizen’s Advice Bureau can provide assistance if you would like legal representation provided that you comply with specific requirements. If you receive legal act, they cannot help.


Who will hear the appeal?

An application for permission to appeal is usually heard by a single judge. A full appeal is heard by a court of 3 judges.


Taking a decision from the Court of Appeal on appeal

This is only permissible in limited instances and permission to take the judgment on appeal will need to either be given by the Court of Appeal or by the Supreme Court.


When will judgment be given?

Many judgments are given in open court on the day of the hearing. In a number of matters, judgment is reserved However, in a number of cases, judgment is "reserved". This means that the Judges will not give their decision on the day of the hearing. They will need some time to reflect on the submissions made in court. This is usually the case in complicated and long appeals. Judgment is handed down in open court at a later date and parties will be informed in advance of the hand-down hearing.