When can you submit an appeal?
You cannot submit an appeal just because you do not agree with the judge’s decision. You will be required to show you have grounds to appeal the decision.
Grounds of appeal
You will need to show that the decision of the judge of the lower court was:
- wrong, or
- unjust because of a serious procedural or other irregularity in the proceedings in the lower court.
You will need to show that the judge did not apply the law correctly, did not follow the correct procedure, or that there are other strong reasons why the decision was wrong or unfair. You cannot appeal based solely on the fact that you do not agree with the decision.
There is a strict 21 day time limit to submit an appeal for a final order.
If this time has expired, you can ask for permission to submit the appeal out of time. You are able to do this on the application form and you will need to explain why you did not submit the appeal within the 21 day time limit. The judge will consider the reasons for the delay and the effect of the delay on the case.
There are limited circumstances where a judge may give a different time frame to submit an appeal so you should always check the court order to see if this applies.
Who do I make my appeal to?
Decisions made by Magistrates, a lay justice or a District Judge sitting in the Family Court will be heard by a Circuit Judge sitting in the Family Court.
Decisions made by a District Judge of the High Court, a Circuit Judge or Recorder in private law child proceedings will be heard by a High Court Judge sitting in the High Court.
Decisions made by a High Court Judge sitting in the High Court, Circuit Judge or Recorder in public law child proceedings will be heard at the Court of Appeal.
You will not be required to obtain permission to submit an appeal if the decision was made by a Magistrate. You will be required to obtain permission if the decision was made by any other judge. This should generally be requested orally at the hearing when the decision is made. If the judge refuses you permission, you can seek permission to appeal from the appeal court. You make this request on the appeal notice which you will lodge with the appeal court.
Once you have submitted you appeal, the court will consider whether to grant you permission. It can refuse permission on the basis of the application, without holding a hearing, however generally this will only be where you have exceeded the time limit to submit the appeal.
In most appeals, you will be informed of a date of a hearing whereby the appeal judge will look over the information you have submitted, hear any submissions and ask questions about your application. They will then decide whether your appeal has a real prospect of success or whether there is any other compelling reason why you should be given permission to appeal.
How to submit an appeal
The application to appeal is called the Appellant’s Notice. If you are appealing to the High Court then you will need to complete the FP161 form. If you are appealing to any other court, you will be required to complete the N161 form.
You will need to detail why you are appealing the decision, including the grounds you wish to rely on. The form will give you further information on additional documents you will need to send with the application form.
There is more information on submitting an appeal on the EX340 form.
If an appeal fails, the appellant can be asked to cover the legal costs of the other party. This is one of the reasons why we always advise to seek independent legal advice before submitting an appeal.
If you are unhappy with the terms of the Order and would like to change these, you could consider making an application for variation. You could also consider discharging the court order completely. Please see our How to Guide on Variation and discharge of an order for contact or residence for more information.