Bringing or Defending a Civil Case
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VIII. What can I do if I lose the case (how to appeal)?

A party (either the plaintiff or the defendant) in a civil case who is not satisfied with a decision of a judge in the District Court can apply to that judge for leave (permission) to appeal. The party must do so within 28 days from the date on which the judgment or order of the Court was sealed or otherwise finalized. If the judge refuses to grant the permission to appeal, the party may apply to the Court of Appeal for that permission. The application must be made within 14 days from the date of the judge's refusal.

No prior permission to appeal is required for cases which were previously heard in the Court of First Instance of the High Court (except for appeals concerned solely with the question of legal costs). The appeal must be lodged within 28 days from the date on which the judgment or order of the Court was sealed or otherwise finalized.

After permission is granted, or when there is a right of appeal without the need to seek prior permission, the appellant (i.e. the party making the appeal) should:

  • file a Notice of Appeal (a sample notice can be downloaded from the Judiciary website) with the trial court and at the same time serve a copy of the Notice on the other party (the appellant should try to deliver this Notice to the other party by hand);
  • lodge with the Registrar a sealed copy (bearing a court's chop) of the judgment or order appealed from and two copies of the Notice of Appeal, one of which shall be endorsed with the amount of the court fee paid, and the other endorsed with a date of service of the notice;
  • Notice of setting down (fixing the hearing date) must be given to all parties on whom the Notice of Appeal was served within 4 days after an appeal has been set down; and
  • make an application to fix a date for the hearing of an appeal to the Registrar of Civil Appeals (application forms are available at the Clerk of Court's Office in the High Court). The application to fix a date for the hearing of an appeal should also include the appellant's estimate as to the length of the hearing. If the appellant does not apply to fix a date for the hearing of an appeal within a reasonable time, the respondent (i.e. the party opposing the appeal) may make such an application.

After application has been made to fix a date for the hearing of an appeal, the Registrar of Civil Appeals will instruct the Clerk of Court to fix a date for the hearing. The parties will be notified in writing.

Cases are heard by the Court of Appeal , comprising normally three, sometimes two, Justices of Appeal.

An appeal to the Court of Appeal is by way of a rehearing. This means that the Court will rehear the case based on the documents. It considers the materials which were before the judge below (i.e. the judge of the lower court in which the case was first heard) and decides whether the judgment being appealed against is wrong.

But normally speaking, the witnesses who had given oral evidence in the previous trial will not be called back to give their evidence again at the appeal hearing.

In the hearing of an appeal to the Court of Appeal, the appellant addresses the court first, followed by the respondent. The appellant has the right to reply to the respondent's arguments.

After hearing arguments from both parties, the Court of Appeal will pass a judgment either immediately after the hearing on a later date. The losing party will normally be ordered to pay the winning party's legal costs in the appeal (and possibly the costs for the previous trial).

It should be noted that comprehensive directions for the conduct of the civil business of the Court of Appeal are provided in Practice Direction 4.1 (Civil Appeals to the Court of Appeal).

Generally, appeals involve further arguments on the relevant legal points and a layman is not in a position to handle that type of argument. You should try to appoint a lawyer to deal with your appeal case.

  1. Does the Court of First Instance of the High Court (not the Court of Appeal) also have the authority to hear appeal cases?
  2. What types of civil matters can be heard by the Court of Final Appeal?
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