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In law, an appeal is a process for requesting a formal change to an official decision.

The specific procedures for appealing, including even whether there is a right of appeal from a particular type of decision, can vary greatly from country to country. Even within a jurisdiction, the nature of an appeal can vary greatly depending on the type of case.

An appellate court is a court that hears cases on appeal from another court. Depending on the particular legal rules that apply to each circumstance, a party to a court case who is unhappy with the result might be able to challenge that result in an appellate court on specific grounds. These grounds typically could include errors of law, fact, or procedure (in the United States, due process).

In different jurisdictions, appellate courts are also called appeals courts, courts of appeals, superior courts, or supreme courts.


Access to appealant status

A party who files an appeal is called an appellant, plaintiff in error, petitioner or pursuer, and a party on the other side is called a respondent (in most common-law countries), defendant in error, appellee (in the United States) or defender (under Scots law). A cross-appeal is an appeal brought by the respondent. For example, suppose at trial the judge found for the plaintiff and ordered the defendant to pay $50,000. If the defendant files an appeal arguing that he should not have to pay any money, then the plaintiff might file a cross-appeal arguing that the defendant should have to pay $200,000 instead of $50,000.

The appellant is the party who, having lost part or all their claim in a lower court decision, is appealing to a higher court to have their case reconsidered. This is usually done on the basis that the lower court judge erred in the application of law, but it may also be possible to appeal on the basis of court misconduct, or that a finding of fact was entirely unreasonable to make on the evidence.

The appellant in the new case can be either the plaintiff (or claimant), defendant, or respondent (appellee) from the lower case, depending on who was the losing party. The winning party from the lower court, however, is now the respondent. In unusual cases the appellant can be the victor in the court below, but still appeal. For example, in Doyle v Olby (Ironmongers) Ltd [1969] 2 QB 158, the claimant appealed (successfully) on the basis that, although he won in the court below, the lower court had applied the wrong measure of damages and he had not been fully recompensated.

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