Appeals from Courts

Introduction to appeals from courts

What appeals can the Court hear?

Under the Federal Court of Australia Act 1976 the Court can hear appeals from:

  • judgments of a single Judge of the Federal Court whether interlocutory or final;
  • judgments of a Supreme Court of a Territory other than the Australian Capital Territory or Northern Territory;
  • certain judgments of courts (other than a Full Court of the Supreme Court) of a State, the Australian Capital Territory or the Northern Territory, exercising federal jurisdiction;
  • certain judgments of the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia.

Who hears appeals?

Usually a Full Court of three or more Judges sitting together will hear an appeal. However, appeals from a judgment of a Judge of the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia or from a Court of summary jurisdiction will be heard by a single judge unless a judge considers that it is appropriate for the appeal to be heard by a Full Court.

What are the chances of success?

For an appeal to succeed a party must convince the Court that the Judge that heard the original case made an error of law and that the error was of such significance that the decision should be overturned. Some examples of significant errors of law are that the Judge that heard the original case:

  • applied an incorrect principle of law; or
  • made a finding of fact or facts on an important issue which could not be supported by the evidence.

The Court hearing the appeal:

  • does not consider any new evidence or information that was not presented in the original case (except in special circumstances);
  • does not call witnesses to give evidence;
  • does read all the relevant documents filed by the parties for the original case;
  • does read the relevant parts of the transcript of the original case, if available;
  • does listen to legal argument from both parties to the appeal.

What if someone is appealing against a decision given in favour of another party?

If a person or corporation has been served with a Notice of Appeal that party will be known as the respondent in the appeal proceeding. The respondent then needs to notify the Court of their address for service by filing a Form 10 (doc - 34 kb).

If a respondent wants to appeal part of the judgment in the original case or to have part of the original judgment varied the respondent must fill out a Notice of Cross-Appeal using a Form 123 (doc - 57 kb).

Legal advice

Drafting a Notice of Appeal or Cross-Appeal is very difficult. It is therefore strongly recommended that a Notice of Appeal be prepared with legal assistance.

There are organisations which may be able to provide free or low-cost legal advice or assistance to a person who does not have a lawyer

Court staff cannot provide legal advice.

A party who loses an appeal will usually be ordered to pay each of the other party's legal costs.

Where to get forms

Appeal forms are available from this website or from any Federal Court Registry.

Interpreters for hearings

If you need an interpreter to understand what is being said at a court hearing, you will need to arrange for any interpreter that you or your witnesses may require.

If you can not afford to pay for an interpreter, the registry may be able to arrange an interpreter for you. If you want the Court to arrange an interpreter you must contact the registry at least one week before the hearing. If you do not contact the registry within one week of the hearing, the Registry may not be able to arrange an interpreter in time and the hearing may be delayed.

You can also call 131 450 and speak to the registry through a telephone interpreter.

Interpreters to communicate with Registry

If you need an interpreter to communicate with Registry staff you can call 131 450 (the Translating & Interpreting Service) and speak to an interpreter. Ask them to set up a three-way conversation between you, an interpreter and your nearest Federal Court of Australia Registry. If you live in Western Australia, you may directly contact the Registry staff, who will arrange a telephone interpreter for you.

It is your responsibility to arrange and pay for the cost of a translator to translate documents sent to you by the Court or the respondent.