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Detailed Practice Notes written by our Professional Support Lawyers, guiding you through the key issues in each topic.
Appeals - overviewGeneral principles
In principle, every order made by a court can be subject to an appeal. Appeals need not relate to the whole of the order made, simply part of it, eg costs. However: an appellant cannot appeal simply because he does not agree with the order made by the court - it must either be wrong in law, or unjust due to some serious procedural or other irregularity and unmeritorious appeals can have costs implications for the unsuccessful appealing party, and
a prospective appellant must seek permission to appeal in almost all cases - if permission is refused by the trial judge, the application for permission to appeal has to be made to the higher court before the court will consider the merits of appeal in detail
Appeals to the county court and High Court are governed by the Family Procedure Rules 2010 (FPR 2010), and appeals to the Court of Appeal are governed by the Civil Procedure Rules 1998. Appeals to the Supreme Court are governed by the Rules of the Supreme Court. With effect from 6 April 2011 family proceedings issued on or after that date, in all levels of courts, are governed by the FPR 2010. Proceedings issued prior to 6 April 2011 are subject to the transitional provisions set out in Part 36 of the FPR 2010 and PD 36A.
There is specific provision on what documents are to be filed with the appeal court. In all cases, an appellant must file and serve an appellant’s notice. This may be supplemented by a skeleton argument and a bundle. A respondent need not file and serve a respondent’s notice but must do so if he seeks to rely on any reason to uphold the order not relied on in the lower court.
While it is possible to appeal an order that was made with the consent of both parties, this can only be achieved successfully in closely defined circumstances, not simply where one party has changed their mind having had further time to reflect.
Every appeal from each tier of the court structure is governed by specific procedure and time limits. Adherence to the time limits is important otherwise the appeal will be deemed to be out of time and permission has to be sought even to bring it.
Appeals are governed by FPR 2010 save in the circumstances detailed above. Appealing an order does not act as a stay of the execution of the order appealed against. If the appellant seeks a stay, it must be by separate application to the appeal court. If the appellant intends to rely upon the Human Rights Act 1998 as a ground of appeal details of this particular claim must be contained within the grounds of appeal.
Powers of the appeal court
The court has wide powers on appeal. It can vary, discharge or remit for a rehearing, among other actions. The court is not generally permitted to admit fresh evidence on the hearing of an appeal, unless the interests of justice require it to do so eg if there has been a change of circumstances.
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