1.4 Deciding to appeal
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Appeals are expensive
Before making the decision to appeal your case, talk to a lawyer. They will explain your chances of winning or losing the appeal. The Access Pro Bono Society runs a program that allows every self-represented litigant in the Court of Appeal the opportunity to meet with a lawyer at no cost to discuss their appeal.
- Even if you are granted an order that no filing fees are payable, you will have to pay fees for getting a transcript prepared if you are appealing a trial that involved live witnesses. Transcript costs can add up to many thousands of dollars. (Generally, you do not need to file a transcript for appeals from a “chambers” judgment; “chambers” includes applications and summary hearings where the evidence is given in writing (by affidavit), not by live witness testimony. See Section 2.5 - Obtain and File a Transcript for more information).
- If you lose the appeal, you may have to pay the costs of the other party, and that can also add up to be thousands of dollars.
In addition to the monetary costs, you will have to spend a great deal of time learning about the appeal process and preparing your appeal documents. You may find it stressful to be involved in another legal case.
An appeal is not a new trial
Appeals are very different from trials or applications. They are based on legal research, writing, and oral advocacy skills. An appeal is not a new trial. For an appeal to be successful, you must show that the decision-maker (e.g., a judge or tribunal) made a factual or legal error that affected the outcome of your case. You will have to do your own legal research to understand how the law was interpreted and explain the errors the decision-maker made. You must follow the procedures of the Court of Appeal and meet strict deadlines or risk having your appeal dismissed.
Think about settling your case
Consider settling your case. Settlement allows you to reach an agreement with the other party instead of having the court impose its decision on you. The BC Court of Appeal has a program to facilitate settlements. The purpose of a Judicial Settlement Conference is to help parties to resolve appeals at an early stage, to save the expense to the parties, and to conclude the matter in a timely way. Details of a Judicial Settlement Conference are set out in the court’s practice directive.
Consider what the court will review at the hearing
When reviewing a case, the BC Court of Appeal looks at whether the decision-maker made a mistake in understanding the facts of the case or interpreting the law. Any mistake identified must have been significant enough to have had an impact on the outcome of the case. Because the appeal court does not hear evidence from witnesses, it is very difficult to convince the appeal judges that the previous decision-maker reached the wrong conclusion about the facts of the case.