An appeal is a special written request to have a higher court determine if errors were made in a decision issued by a lower court or in the way the hearing or trial was heard at the court. An appeal can be filed if a party believes that the judge who heard their case applied the law in the wrong way when making their decision or made an error in the facts relied upon when making the decision. You do not file an appeal simply because you didn’t like the decision that was made.
Appeals are not the same thing as variation applications. If your circumstances have changed since the time your last order was made and you want the court to change your order as a result of these changes, this is called applying to ‘vary’ your order. For more information about variations, click here.
Appeals from Family Court, Supreme Court (Family Division) and Supreme Court (General Division) are filed and heard at the Nova Scotia Court of Appeals at the Law Courts at 1815 Upper Water Street in Halifax. You do not file an appeal with the court that originally made the decision that you are now appealing.
There are particular documents that must be filed to start an appeal, and there are timelines in which this must be done. Most appeals must be filed within 30 days of the original decision. There are filing costs for starting an appeal.
Appeals are very difficult legal applications, and there are a lot of rules about the documents that must be filed, as well as the way you present an appeal in court. You will need to prepare a legal brief, called a ‘factum,’ and you will need to know about the law that applies to your case. Appeals are not an opportunity to have your entire case re-heard or re-tried. When you appear in appeal court, you must speak about the errors in law or fact that you are alleging the judge made when initially hearing your case. This process is very difficult to do, especially for those who do not have legal training. Decisions to file an appeal should be made with the help of legal advice. Remember that you may have to pay costs to the other person if the appeal is not successful.
For more information about appeals, please speak with a lawyer, or click here.
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