So the Judge Ruled Against You…Now What?

Should you find yourself in a position where a judge has ruled against you and you wish to have that decision reviewed by a higher court then you must:

1. Take Immediate Steps to File the Necessary Appeal Documents

If you are seeking an appeal of a judge’s decision made at trial, you will have 30 days from the date of the judge’s decision to file with the court and effect service on the opposing party a document called a Notice of Appeal.  The time limit is even shorter when appealing the interim decision of a master made in chambers.   Accordingly, it is critical to seek the advice of experience legal counsel if you are displeased with a judge’s or master’s decision.  Except in the rarest of cases, failure to comply with the time limits will mean that your right to appeal will be denied. 

2. Understand the Appeal Process

The appeal from a judge’s decision does not afford you the opportunity to re-argue your entire case again in front of judges of a higher court but rather an appeal is an opportunity for you to convince a higher court to correct the error or errors the judge made when making the decision you are appealing from.   To succeed at appeal, you must identify those errors and explain the nature and significance of these errors to the judges hearing the appeal.

It is also useful to remember that there are 2 sorts of errors that can be found in a trial judge’s decision.  These errors are:

  • Errors of law: a mistake that is made by the court when it applies the law to the facts of your case.  To establish an error of law, it is necessary to show that the judge was incorrect about a point of law and that the error made led to the decision that you wish to appeal from.  As it is the primary job of an appellate court to correct a trial judge’s errors of law so that the law is being applied uniformly and correctly by all judges it is only necessary to show an error was made.
  • Errors of fact: a mistake that is made by the court when it misapprehends a fact and based upon that misapprehension the judge renders judgment.  To be successful on an appeal based on an error of fact, it is necessary that you show the error is palpable and overriding.  The reason for a relatively high threshold is that appeal judges are deferential to a trial judge’s findings of fact for the simple reason that the judge heard oral testimony from the witnesses and so is a better position to make findings of fact. 

3. Be Prepared to Spend Money   

While many appeals are heard in far less time than what a trial consumes, the filing fees, the ordering of transcripts of oral evidence given at trial, the amount of time your lawyer will spend researching the law and drafting written argument to submit to the appeal judges pointing out the errors made by the trial judge usually means an appeal will be at least $25,000 and if you lose you may be paying the responding side’s taxable legal costs. 

4. Be Patient

While hearing dates for appeals are available on a much shorter time frame than those available for your trial, it will usually be at least 6 months from the date you filed your Notice of Appeal to the date of hearing and perhaps several months after the hearing date of your appeal until the appellate court will issue its decision. 

Should you wish to have a judge’s decision reviewed call Vancouver & Burnaby Appeals Lawyer Andrew Rebane at Resolutions Law Corporation, Burnaby, British Columbia andrew@resolutionslawcorp.com or 778-372-7107.