1.5 An appeal is expensive. What kind of help is there?
What if you cannot afford a lawyer?
The BC Court of Appeal will not appoint a lawyer to represent you in a civil or family case. However, Access Pro Bono Society of British Columbia 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. When you file your Notice of Appeal you will be referred to a lawyer who you can call or email for advice. This lawyer will assess your case and provide you with summary advice. They will also assess your financial eligibility for further services. They may act for you, refer you to another lawyer, or decline to act.
What if you cannot afford to pay filing fees?
If you cannot afford to pay the fees for filing an appeal, you can apply to the court for an order that no fees are payable (see Rule 85 of the Court of Appeal Rules). You can make this application by filing Form 22 at the same time that you file your notice of appeal.
To be granted an order that no fees are payable, you must show that your appeal is not bound to fail and that payment of court fees would cause you undue financial hardship. Court filing fees are listed in Schedule 2 of the Court of Appeal Rules.
If you are granted an order that no fees are payable, you are exempt only from paying court filing fees. You must still pay for the cost of preparing the transcript from the trial, if required (e.g. if you are appealing from a trial that involved live witnesses – see Rule 24). You may also be responsible for paying the other party’s costs if your appeal is not successful. These costs can amount to thousands of dollars. See Section 4.2 - Costs for more information.
Rule 85 and Form 22 provide more details about this type of application.
How to apply for an order that no fees are payable
Follow these steps to apply for an order that no fees are payable:
- Complete and file an application for an order that no fees are payable (Form 22) . Include a brief explanation of the grounds for appeal and indicate whether the income and assets criteria apply to you.
- If the income and assets criteria on Form 22 apply to you, you meet the financial hardship criteria. If not, you can provide additional information about your financial circumstances and argue that this information establishes undue hardship at the hearing, or you can abandon your application.
- This is a without notice application. You do not need to notify the other parties and they do not need to attend the application hearing.
- An application for an order that no fees are payable is usually made at the same time as you file your notice of appeal. The time limit for filing a notice of appeal is 30 days, commencing on the day after the order you are appealing was pronounced (i.e. the 30-day time limit starts the day after the decision-maker gave the decision you wish to appeal), unless a different Act specifies a different timeline. If the date falls on a weekend, you must file your document on the next business day. See sections 2.1- How to Start an Appeal and 2 – What to Do if Leave is Required on how to file an appeal.
Preparing your materials
The Court of Appeal Registrar provides completion instructions that describe the content and format requirements for documents you file with the court, whether you are e-filing or paper filing. It is important to follow these instructions carefully as you move your appeal along.