Appeals and Judicial Review
There will usually be a right of appeal from the decision of a county court in a civil claim to a higher court. However there must be proper grounds and strict time limits apply. It is not usually possible to appeal simply because you think the judge got it wrong or to have a re-run because you didn’t present your case as well as possible. You do not get a second bite of the cherry.
In most cases you will need permission (or leave) to appeal. If you are unhappy with the judge’s decision you should ask for leave to appeal immediately after the decision has been given. You must have a proper ground which will usually need to be a serious procedural or other irregularity. It will not be enough to say that the judge should have believed your evidence rather than the other sides. You must show for example that the judge:
- Failed to take into account a relevant fact or based undue relevance to an irrelevant fact
- Erred in a finding of fact
- Erred in the exercise of his discretion by reason of a factual error.
- Erred in the weight applied to evidence
- Acted beyond a reasonable exercise of his discretion
- Failed to provide an adequate reason for his decision
- Denied natural justice by refusing to admit evidence.
In all cases it will be necessary to show that the error materially affected the decision.
If the lower court refuses permission, an application for permission to appeal may be made to the appeal court or to a circuit judge against a decision of a district judge, by appeal notice.
Unless the lower court or the appeal court orders otherwise, an appeal does not operate as a stay of any order.
Notice of appeal must be lodged with the court within 14 days of the decision unless extra time is allowed when granting leave.
Judicial reviews are a challenge to the way in which a decision has been made, rather than the rights and wrongs of the conclusion reached.
It is not really concerned with the conclusions of that process and whether those were ‘right’, as long as the right procedures have been followed. The court will not substitute what it thinks is the ‘correct’ decision but refer the matter back to the body making the decision for a rehearing. They could well make the same decision again.
Judicial Review is often used to challenge
Decisions of local authorities in the exercise of their duties to provide various welfare benefits and special education for children in need of such education;
Certain decisions of the immigration authorities and Immigration Appellate Authority;
Decisions of regulatory bodies;
Decisions relating to prisoner’s rights.
A protocol applies and a claimant must send a letter to the authority identifying the issues in dispute in an attempt to establish whether litigation can be avoided.
The letter should contain the date and details of the decision, act or omission being challenged and a clear summary of the facts on which the claim is based. It should also contain the details of any relevant information that the claimant is seeking and an explanation of why this is considered relevant. The letter should normally contain the details of any interested parties known to the claimant.