Frequently Asked Questions

This material is meant to provide a general overview of proceedings in the Court of Appeal. It is information only, not legal advice.

The rules and procedures governing the appeal process, as set out in the Civil Procedure Rules, are complicated. People considering an appeal are strongly encouraged to obtain legal advice or meet with a volunteer lawyer at one of the Courts' free legal clinics.

Collectively, they are referred to as the "Justices of the Court of Appeal". Individually, they should be referred to as Justice [LAST NAME]. When appearing in court, the judges are addressed as Justice [LAST NAME], "My Lady" or "My Lord". 

The Court of Appeal does not re-try cases. It reviews the record of the trial or hearing to ensure the lower court or tribunal made no errors of law. For that reason, an appeal hearing differs significantly from a trial. 

There are typically three judges on the panel and most hearings take a half-day to hear. There are no witnesses or juries. New evidence, or information not presented during the lower court proceeding, will not be considered, except in rare instances when the panel approves such an application. Before the hearing begins, the judges are familiar with the appeal and have reviewed the complete record of the lower court proceedings, as well as the written arguments of the appellant and the respondent, as set out in their factums.

To begin the hearing, the Court Clerk calls the Court of Appeal to order. The appellant first addresses the Court, setting out their legal argument, which is based on the factum that was filed earlier with the Court. The respondent then does the same. The judges frequently ask questions as the case is presented. No additional time is allowed for questions from the panel of judges; therefore, parties should plan to speak briefly (between 30 and 40 minutes) to allow time for them to respond to the judges' questions. The Court of Appeal may give its decision orally the day the appeal is heard, or it may reserve its decision and issue a written judgement later. 

The senior staff member at the Court of Appeal is the Registrar, a legally trained civil servant who is responsible for the administration of the Court. The Registrar also acts as the Prothonotary of the Supreme Court. Assisting the Registrar is the Deputy Registrar, who carries out the day-to-day administrative tasks, including scheduling and monitoring the filing of court documents. The Court Clerk assists in organizing case files and documentation. The Court Clerk also attends appeal hearings, calls the Court to order and ensures the proceedings are properly recorded. Court of Appeal staff cannot provide legal advice. 

The legal system provides for a right of appeal (within set time frames) in most cases. However, not all appeals go directly to the Court of Appeal. For example, the Supreme Court also hears appeals from the Provincial Court and the Small Claims Court, as well as statutory appeals and judicial reviews from Tribunal decisions. Counsel and parties are advised to check the Civil Procedure Rules carefully to determine the appropriate court to file with. 

Generally, only people who are parties in a case can file an appeal. 

The party appealing a decision is called the Appellant. The party against whom an appeal is brought and who must respond to the appellant's case is called the Respondent. 

Apart from lawyer fees, the filing fee to start an appeal is approximately $200.00, plus a law stamp fee (about $25.00 + HST). Court filing fees may be waived due to financial need. For exact court costs and fees, go to the Costs & Fees page. The parties are also responsible for the significant costs of providing the documentation required by the Court of Appeal, including trial transcripts. 

The Appellant must first notify the Court of Appeal and the respondent by filing a Notice of Appeal at the Prothonotary's Office in Halifax. The Appellant must file within the appropriate timeframe and pay the required filing fees.
The Appellant must also file a Notice of Application to appear in Appeal Court Chambers, where a judge will set dates to file the appeal book and facta, and later to hear the appeal. The Appellant must give notice to the Respondent of the date of the Chambers application. The Appellant must also complete the certificate respecting preparation of the appeal book in advance of the Chambers application.

Yes. Although some appeals must be filed within 10 days, generally the Appellant must appeal within 30 days after the lower court or tribunal gives its decision.

Yes. The time frames for the parties to file their various documents are set out in the Civil Procedure Rules and by the Court of Appeal Chambers judge. If a party does not file the documentation by the specified dates, the appeal may be dismissed. A party with good reason for failing to meet the filing dates may seek an extension of the time allowed for filing documents. 

Yes, just like most court proceedings, the Court of Appeal is open to the public. The media may also apply for permission to film appeal hearings, or alternatively for the Court to livestream the proceedings online. 

Appeal Court Chambers sits every Thursday. This is when a Court of Appeal judge presides alone to set dates for upcoming appeals and hear any motions dealing with matters before the Court, such as bail applications and filing extensions. Arrangements may be made in advance, in accordance with the Civil Procedure Rules, to have uncontested Chambers applications (usually matters to be set down for a hearing date) heard by telephone conference call. These typically take place on Wednesdays. 

The Court of Appeal may give its decision orally in court, shortly after the Appellant and the Respondent have presented their cases. However, the Court more often reserves its decision and issues a written judgment later. 

Yes, some cases can appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa. In some of the most serious criminal cases, a party has an automatic right to appeal; however, in most cases, permission to appeal must be granted by the Supreme Court of Canada or by the Court of Appeal.