August 14, 2018

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The Appellate Process in Great Britain

Litigants in the UK who are not satisfied with a trial court’s decision may be granted the right of appeal. Sufficient grounds for the appeal must be furnished to a judge within the relevant time limits for the right to appeal to be granted. In certain cases leave must be sought and granted before an appeal can be made.

Which avenue of appeal is open to a litigant depends on the court in which the original judgment was made.

Appeals system

The Access to Justice Act 1999 and the Civil Procedure Rules 1998 produced the present day appeals system in which a case, upon appeal, will be sent to the court one rung above in the court hierarchy. Appeals may be granted on the basis of an incorrect judgment or one that was guilty of a serious irregularity or error of procedure.

Judgments made in the Magistrates Court

Criminal cases heard in the Magistrates Court will with approval be escalated to the Crown Court.

Crown and County Courts

Civil and criminal judgments made in Crown and County Courts are, upon appeal, heard in the Court of Appeal Civil Division and the Court of Appeal Criminal Division respectively. It should be noted that in the case of convictions in criminal hearings, leave to appeal must first be sought and granted before an appeal can be brought.

Court of Appeal

The Court of Appeal is presided over by the Lords Justices of Appeal and consists of two divisions, the Civil Division and the Criminal Division. It is the second highest court in the UK under the Supreme Court.

The Court of Appeal Civil Division has jurisdiction over non-criminal cases and hears appeals emanating from the High Court of Justice and the County Courts, while the Criminal Division hears appeals emanating from the Crown Court.

The Court of Appeal Criminal Division has purview over criminal cases and hears appeals emanating from the Crown Court in relation to indictment or sentences made in the Crown Court against an accused that were committed from the Magistrates Court.

Judicial Committee of the Privy Council

The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council hears appeals on a range of issues which can be roughly classified into matters of devolution involving devolved authorities which were established in Scotland, Wales and Northern Island, appeals emanating from the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, appeals brought under the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966 pertaining to decisions made by the Disciplinary Committee of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, and lastly appeals pertaining to pastoral schemes made in accordance with the Pastoral Measure 1983.

Supreme Court

Since 2009, the Supreme Court has been the highest court of appeal in the UK. Before October 2009, the highest court of appeal was the Appellate Committee House of Lords.

Appeals based on points of law which are matters of public importance are heard in the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court also deals with devolution matters under the Government of Wales Act 2006, the Northern Ireland Act 1988 and the Scotland Act 1998.