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Accessible legal tips, know-how and news for anyone with a complaint or legal issue from Stephen Gold, author of The Return of Breaking Law, the book

Monday 26 September 2016


Routes of appeal - the court to which you can challenge a decision you hate - are changing on 3 October 2016 in family, insolvency and civil cases. The intention is that, as far as possible, an appeal from a judge should be dealt with by a judge on the next level up. Less work for the Court of Appeal (where you get three judges on the job) and, so they hope and pray, less waiting time for an appeal to be heard. 

This is what is happening on the civil front in appeals from county court decisions and if you don't believe me, have a gander at the Access to Justice Act 1999 (Destination of Appeals) Order 2016 SI 2016/917. No, I thought you might not!

Generally, an appeal against a decision of a district judge in the county court will continue to go to a circuit judge in the county court. An appeal against a decision of a circuit judge or recorder in the county court will  go to a High Court judge and it will make no difference whether the decision under challenge is what is called an interim or final decision. 

District judges in the county court often deal with the more substantial multi-track cases. Instead of a challenge against their final decision in such a situation, exceptionally going to the Court of Appeal, in future it will go to a circuit judge. 

Big caveat. If the decision you hate was actually made on the hearing of an appeal - you were appealing from a district judge to a circuit judge - and there is to be  further appeal then that further appeal will lie to the Court of Appeal. So that's pretty straightforward then!

You won't have an automatic right to appeal in the vast majority of cases. You will have to obtain permission to appeal from the judge who made the decision or from a judge to whom the appeal would go. No walkover.

The changes do not affect appeals where notice of appeal or an application for permission to appeal has been lodged with the court before 3 October 2016.