APPEALS

APPEALS IN ONTARIO: A BRIEF OVERVIEW

Introduction

Appealing a court decision is a critical aspect of the legal process in Ontario. Appeals provide a mechanism for parties to challenge the decisions of lower courts or administrative bodies, ensuring that errors can be corrected and justice maintained. Our Toronto Appeal Lawyers handle different types of appeals at our firm, including civil court appeals, family court appeals, and judicial review applications. In addition to representing clients on their appeals, our Toronto Appeal Lawyers assist clients in determining whether to appeal and how to navigate the complex appellate process.

CIVIL APPEALS

Civil appeals involve challenging decisions made in civil cases, which can include disputes over contracts, property, personal injury claims, and more. In Ontario, the civil appeal process is governed by specific rules and procedures aimed at ensuring fair and efficient resolution of these disputes.

GROUNDS FOR CIVIL APPEALS

To appeal a civil decision, there must be valid grounds, which typically include:

  • Errors of Law: Mistakes in the application or interpretation of the law are among the most common grounds for appeal. For example, if the trial judge misinterprets a statute or case law, this can form the basis for an appeal.

  • Errors of Fact: Incorrect findings of fact that affect the outcome of the case can also be grounds for appeal. This might include situations where the judge’s conclusions about the evidence presented are unreasonable or unsupported by the evidence.

  • Procedural Errors: Irregularities in the trial process that resulted in an unfair trial, such as a failure to follow proper procedures or a denial of the right to a fair hearing, can justify an appeal.

  • New Evidence: In rare cases, new evidence that was not available during the original trial and that could significantly impact the outcome may be considered as grounds for an appeal.

THE APPEAL PROCESS (CIVIL APPEALS)

The process for appealing a civil decision involves several key steps:

  • Notice of Appeal: The first step is filing a Notice of Appeal, which formally initiates the appeal process. This document outlines the grounds for appeal and the relief sought. It must be filed within a specific timeframe, typically 30 days from the date of the original decision.

  • Preparation of the Appeal Record: The appellant must prepare the appeal record, including transcripts of the trial proceedings, evidence presented, and other relevant documents. This record forms the basis of the appellate court’s review.

  • Factums: Both parties submit written arguments, known as factums, outlining their positions. The appellant’s factum explains why the decision should be overturned, while the respondent’s factum argues why the decision should be upheld. These documents are critical as they provide the appellate judges with the legal and factual basis for each party’s arguments.

  • Oral Hearing: In most cases, an oral hearing is held where both parties present their arguments before the appellate court. The judges may ask questions to clarify points raised in the factums. The oral hearing allows the judges to engage directly with the lawyers and explore the issues in more depth.

  • Decision: After considering the written and oral arguments, the appellate court will issue a decision. The court may uphold the original decision, overturn it, or remit the case back to the lower court for further proceedings. The decision will be based on whether the appellate judges find that errors occurred in the original trial and whether those errors affected the outcome of the case.

LEVELS OF CIVIL APPEALS

In Ontario, civil appeals can be heard by different courts depending on the nature of the case and the court that issued the original decision:

  • Divisional Court: Handles appeals from decisions of the Small Claims Court and certain administrative tribunals. It also hears appeals of interlocutory (temporary) orders from the Superior Court of Justice. The Divisional Court serves as an intermediate appellate court and often deals with cases involving procedural or jurisdictional issues.

  • Court of Appeal for Ontario: This is the highest appellate court in the province. It hears appeals from decisions of the Superior Court of Justice and the Divisional Court. Its decisions are final within the province, though further appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada is possible in rare cases. The Court of Appeal deals with more complex and significant legal issues, and its decisions often have broader implications for the development of the law in Ontario.

FAMILY APPEALS

Family appeals involve challenging decisions made in family law cases, such as those related to divorce, child custody (now called parenting time and decision-making responsibility), support payments, and property division. Given the sensitive nature of these cases, the appellate process in family law is designed to ensure fair and just outcomes while minimizing additional stress for the parties involved.

GROUNDS FOR FAMILY APPEALS

Grounds for appealing a family law decision are similar to those in civil cases and include:

  • Errors of Law: Misinterpretation or misapplication of family law statutes or principles. For example, a judge may have incorrectly applied the law regarding child custody or support payments.

  • Errors of Fact: Incorrect findings regarding key facts of the case, such as the financial circumstances of the parties or the needs of the children involved.

  • Procedural Errors: Mistakes in the handling of the case that affected its fairness, such as failing to provide one party with a fair opportunity to present their case or consider relevant evidence.

THE APPEAL PROCESS (FAMLY APPEALS)

The process for appealing a family law decision is as follows:

  • Notice of Appeal: As in civil cases, the process begins with filing a Notice of Appeal. This document must be filed within a specified timeframe following the original decision, typically 30 days.

  • Preparation of the Appeal Record: The appellant must compile an appeal record, including transcripts, evidence, and other relevant documents from the trial. This ensures that the appellate court has all the necessary information to review the case.

  • Factums: Both parties submit written arguments (factums) detailing their positions. The appellant’s factum outlines the grounds for appeal, and the respondent’s factum defends the original decision. These documents are crucial for articulating the legal and factual basis for each party’s arguments.

  • Oral Hearing: An oral hearing may be held during which both parties present their arguments. The appellate judges may ask questions to clarify points raised in the written submissions. This hearing provides an opportunity for the judges to engage directly with the lawyers and explore the issues in more depth.

  • Decision: The appellate court will issue a decision after considering all arguments. The court may uphold, overturn, or modify the original decision, or it may order a new trial. The decision will depend on whether the appellate judges find that errors occurred in the original trial and whether those errors affected the outcome of the case.

LEVELS OF FAMILY APPEALS

Family appeals can be heard by different courts depending on the case:

  • Ontario Superior Court of Justice: Handles appeals from decisions of the Ontario Court of Justice in family law matters. This court deals with a wide range of family law issues and its decisions can significantly impact the lives of the parties involved.

  • Divisional Court: Hears appeals from interlocutory orders in family law cases. These are temporary orders issued during the course of a case, such as temporary custody arrangements or interim support payments.

  • Court of Appeal for Ontario: Handles appeals from final decisions of the Superior Court of Justice in family law matters. The Court of Appeal’s decisions often address complex legal issues and set important precedents for the interpretation and application of family law in Ontario.

JUDICIAL REVIEW

Judicial review is a process by which the courts oversee the decisions of administrative bodies and tribunals to ensure they are legal, reasonable, and procedurally fair. It is a vital mechanism for maintaining the rule of law and protecting individuals’ rights.

WHAT IS JUDICIAL REVIEW?

Judicial review is distinct from an appeal. While an appeal focuses on correcting errors made by a lower court, judicial review examines the legality and fairness of decisions made by administrative bodies. Grounds for judicial review include:

  • Procedural Fairness: Ensuring that the decision-making process was fair and impartial. This includes ensuring that all parties had a fair opportunity to present their case and that the decision-maker followed proper procedures.

  • Jurisdiction: Confirming that the administrative body acted within its legal authority. If a body exceeds its jurisdiction or fails to exercise its jurisdiction properly, its decision can be challenged.

  • Reasonableness: Assessing whether the decision was reasonable based on the evidence and applicable law. A decision can be deemed unreasonable if it lacks a rational basis or is not supported by the evidence.

JUDICIAL REVIEW PROCESS

The process for seeking judicial review involves several steps, all of which our Toronto Judicial Review Lawyers can assist with:

  • Filing an Application: The process begins with filing an application for judicial review in the appropriate court. This application outlines the decision being challenged and the grounds for review. It must be filed within a specified timeframe, usually 30 days from the date of the decision.

  • Preparation of the Record: The applicant must prepare a record of the proceedings, including transcripts, evidence, and relevant documents. This record provides the court with the necessary information to review the decision.

  • Written Submissions: Both parties submit written arguments detailing their positions. The applicant’s submission explains why the decision should be reviewed, while the respondent’s submission defends the decision. These submissions are critical for presenting the legal and factual basis for each party’s arguments.

  • Oral Hearing: An oral hearing may be held where both parties present their arguments. The judges may ask questions to clarify points raised in the submissions. The hearing provides an opportunity for the judges to engage directly with the lawyers and explore the issues in more depth.

  • Decision: The court will issue a decision after considering all arguments. The court may uphold, quash, or remit the decision back to the administrative body for reconsideration. The decision will depend on whether the judges find that the administrative body acted within its jurisdiction, followed proper procedures, and made a reasonable decision.

LEVELS OF JUDICIAL REVIEW

Judicial review applications can be heard by different courts depending on the case:

  • Divisional Court: Handles most applications for judicial review of decisions made by Ontario administrative bodies. The Divisional Court’s role is to ensure that administrative bodies act within their jurisdiction and follow proper procedures.

  • Federal Court: Handles applications for judicial review of decisions made by federal administrative bodies. The Federal Court reviews decisions made by bodies such as the Immigration and Refugee Board, the Canada Revenue Agency, and other federal agencies.

  • Superior Court of Justice: May hear applications for judicial review in certain circumstances, particularly those involving constitutional issues. The Superior Court’s role is to ensure that administrative bodies act within their jurisdiction and follow proper procedures.

HOW OUR LAWYERS HANDLE APPEALS AND JUDICIAL REVIEWS

1. Assessing the Viability of an Appeal or Judicial Review

The first step our lawyers take is to assess whether an appeal or judicial review is viable. This involves:

  • Reviewing the Original Decision: We thoroughly review the original decision and the reasons provided by the court or administrative body. This helps us identify any potential grounds for appeal or review. Our lawyers carefully examine the legal and factual basis of the decision to determine whether errors occurred that justify an appeal or review.

  • Consulting with the Client: We discuss the decision and its implications with the client, ensuring they understand the possible outcomes and risks associated with an appeal or review. We provide clear and honest advice to help clients make informed decisions about whether to proceed.

  • Legal Research: Our lawyers conduct in-depth legal research to evaluate the strength of potential arguments and the likelihood of success. This includes reviewing relevant case law and legal principles. Our goal is to provide a realistic assessment of the case and outline a clear path forward.

2. Developing a Strategic Plan

Once we determine that an appeal or judicial review is viable, we develop a strategic plan tailored to the client’s needs and objectives.

  • Identifying Key Issues: We identify the key issues that will form the basis of our arguments. This involves focusing on the most compelling grounds for appeal or review. Our lawyers prioritize the strongest arguments to maximize the chances of success.

  • Gathering Evidence: We gather all necessary evidence, including transcripts, documents, and expert opinions, to support our case. This ensures that we have a solid factual basis for our arguments and can effectively challenge the original decision.

  • Drafting Legal Documents: Our lawyers prepare all required legal documents, including the Notice of Appeal or Application for Judicial Review, factums, and other supporting materials. We ensure that these documents are meticulously drafted and comply with all procedural requirements.

3. Navigating the Appellate Process

Navigating the appellate process requires meticulous preparation and skilled advocacy.

  • Filing and Serving Documents: We ensure that all documents are filed and served in accordance with court rules and deadlines. Timely and accurate filing is crucial to the success of an appeal or review. Our lawyers carefully track deadlines and ensure that all procedural requirements are met.

  • Preparing for Oral Hearings: If an oral hearing is scheduled, we prepare thoroughly by rehearsing arguments, anticipating questions, and refining our presentation. Our goal is to present a compelling case that persuades the appellate judges. We work closely with clients to prepare them for the hearing and ensure that they understand the process.

  • Advocating in Court: During the oral hearing, our experienced litigators advocate vigorously on behalf of our clients. We present clear and concise arguments, supported by evidence and legal precedents, to convince the judges to rule in our favour. Our lawyers are skilled in oral advocacy and are committed to achieving the best possible outcomes for our clients.

4. Post-Decision Actions

After the appellate court issues its decision, there may be additional steps required.

  • Advising the Client: We explain the appellate court’s decision to the client, including its implications and any further legal options. This includes discussing the possibility of further appeals, if applicable. We provide clear and honest advice to help clients understand their options and make informed decisions.

  • Implementing the Decision: If the appeal or review is successful, we assist the client in implementing the court’s decision. This may involve remanding the case to a lower court or administrative body for further proceedings. We work closely with clients to ensure that the court’s decision is effectively implemented and that any necessary follow-up actions are taken.

  • Considering Further Appeals: In some cases, it may be appropriate to consider further appeals to higher courts, such as the Supreme Court of Canada. We evaluate the merits of such appeals and advise the client accordingly. Our lawyers provide clear and honest advice about the likelihood of success and the potential benefits and risks of further appeals.

5. Client Communication and Transparency

Effective communication with our clients is essential throughout the appellate process.

  • Regular Updates: We provide clients with regular updates on the status of their appeal or review. This includes informing them of key developments and upcoming deadlines. Our goal is to ensure that clients are well-informed and can make informed decisions about their case.

  • Clear Explanations: We ensure that clients understand the legal issues and the appellate process. This involves explaining complex legal concepts in plain language. We strive to provide clear and concise explanations that help clients understand their options and the potential outcomes of their case.

  • Responsive Support: Our lawyers are always available to answer questions and address concerns. We strive to be responsive and supportive, providing clients with the information and reassurance they need. We understand that the appellate process can be stressful and challenging, and we are committed to providing the support and guidance that clients need to navigate it successfully.

6. Collaboration and Teamwork

Effective handling of appeals and judicial reviews often requires collaboration and teamwork. Our firm leverages the collective expertise of our lawyers to provide comprehensive legal representation.

  • Interdisciplinary Teams: We assemble interdisciplinary teams that bring together lawyers with different areas of expertise. This ensures that all aspects of the case are covered, from legal research and strategy development to trial representation. Our collaborative approach allows us to draw on a wide range of knowledge and experience to develop the best possible strategies for our clients.

  • Client Involvement: We involve clients in the decision-making process, seeking their input and keeping them informed. This collaborative approach ensures that our legal strategies align with the client’s business goals and objectives. We work closely with clients to understand their needs and priorities and to develop strategies that meet their specific needs.

7. Technology and Innovation

We utilize the latest technology and innovative practices to enhance our appellate services. This includes using legal research databases, case management software, and electronic discovery tools.

  • Legal Research: Access to comprehensive legal research databases allows us to stay current with the latest case law and legal precedents. This supports the development of strong legal arguments. Our lawyers are skilled in legal research and use advanced tools and resources to ensure that our arguments are well-supported and persuasive.

  • Case Management: Case management software helps us organize and manage case documents, track deadlines, and communicate with clients efficiently. This enhances our ability to handle complex appellate matters. Our use of technology ensures that we can manage cases efficiently and effectively, minimizing delays and ensuring that all procedural requirements are met.

  • Electronic Discovery: Electronic discovery tools enable us to efficiently gather, review, and analyze large volumes of electronic evidence. This is particularly important in cases involving significant amounts of data. Our use of advanced technology ensures that we can handle even the most complex cases efficiently and effectively.

8. Focus on Resolution

While appeals and judicial reviews are sometimes necessary, our ultimate goal is to resolve disputes in the most efficient and effective manner possible. This focus on resolution ensures that clients can move forward with their business with minimal disruption.

  • Settlement Negotiations: We actively pursue settlement negotiations when appropriate, seeking to resolve disputes without the need for a prolonged trial. Settlements can provide quicker and more predictable outcomes. Our lawyers are skilled negotiators and work tirelessly to achieve the best possible outcomes for our clients.

  • Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR): We explore all ADR options, including mediation and arbitration, to achieve favourable resolutions. ADR can be a cost-effective and less adversarial alternative to traditional litigation. Our commitment to ADR ensures that clients have access to a wide range of options for resolving their disputes.

  • Courtroom Advocacy: When a trial is unavoidable, our lawyers are skilled advocates in the courtroom. We present our clients’ cases with clarity and precision, striving for the best possible outcomes. Our lawyers are experienced litigators and are committed to achieving the best possible outcomes for our clients.

Conclusion

Handling appeals and judicial reviews requires a combination of legal expertise, strategic planning, and effective advocacy. Our firm is dedicated to providing comprehensive and skilled representation in all types of appeals and judicial reviews. Whether challenging a civil court decision, a family court ruling, or an administrative decision, we work tirelessly to achieve the best possible outcomes for our clients. Contact us today to learn more about how we can assist you with your appellate needs.

CONCLUSION: CHOOSE GRIGORAS LAW FOR YOUR APPEAL OR JUDICIAL REVIEW CASE

Navigating the complexities of appeals and judicial reviews requires a thorough understanding of the legal landscape, strategic planning, and skilled advocacy. If you are facing an appeal or judicial review, having the right legal representation can make a significant difference. For individuals and businesses in Toronto and throughout Ontario, Grigoras Law is the premier choice for handling appeals and judicial reviews.

Why Choose Grigoras Law for Your Appeal or Judicial Review Case?

Expertise in Appellate and Judicial Review Law: Our legal team, led by experienced lawyers Denis Grigoras and Rachelle Wabischewich, brings extensive knowledge and a wealth of experience to every case. Appeals and judicial reviews require a detailed understanding of legal principles and procedural rules. We provide comprehensive legal guidance and robust advocacy across Ontario.

Client-Centric Approach: At Grigoras Law, your needs and well-being are our top priorities. We offer personalized legal solutions tailored to your specific situation, ensuring you feel supported throughout your legal journey. Our approach is centred on you; we listen to your concerns, understand your unique circumstances, and develop strategies that best suit your needs. Your peace of mind and satisfaction are paramount.

Proven Track Record: Our history of successful outcomes demonstrates our ability to effectively represent clients in appeals and judicial reviews. We have consistently helped clients achieve favourable outcomes, whether challenging a decision or defending against one. Our reputation as skilled litigation lawyers in Toronto is built on a foundation of successful cases and client satisfaction.

Holistic Legal Understanding: We integrate appellate and judicial review law with other areas of litigation, enabling us to approach cases from a comprehensive perspective. This ensures that all relevant issues are considered, and no detail is overlooked, whether you are asserting your rights or defending against allegations. Our team possesses in-depth knowledge across various areas of law, enabling us to provide holistic and nuanced legal support.

Convenient and Accessible: Based in the heart of Toronto, Grigoras Law is your local legal partner, accessible to clients throughout the GTA and Ontario. We are dedicated to providing expert legal support when you need it most. Our central location ensures ease of access, and we are committed to serving clients from all parts of Ontario with the same level of dedication and expertise.

A Team You Can Trust: Our exceptional legal team, led by Denis Grigoras and Rachelle Wabischewich, is committed to your success. We pay close attention to every detail, respond promptly to your needs, and work tirelessly to find effective solutions. With us, you’re not just getting legal support; you’re gaining partners who genuinely care about your case. Our team is known for its dedication, professionalism, and unwavering commitment to our clients’ well-being.

Tailored Legal Strategies: At Grigoras Law, we understand that every appeal or judicial review case is unique. We take the time to understand the specifics of your situation and tailor our legal strategies accordingly. Whether you are challenging a civil court decision, a family court ruling, or an administrative decision, we develop a customized approach to achieve the best possible outcome for you.

Comprehensive Support: We provide comprehensive support for all aspects of your appeal or judicial review case. From assessing the viability of your appeal to developing strategic plans and navigating the appellate process, we are with you every step of the way. Our thorough and strategic approach ensures that all bases are covered, giving you confidence that your case is in capable hands.

Navigating Complex Legal Challenges: Appeals and judicial reviews can be complex, often involving multiple legal issues. Our team’s holistic understanding of the law allows us to navigate these challenges with ease. We stay vigilant in monitoring legislative changes and judicial interpretations, ensuring that the advice we provide is based on the most current legal standards and practices.

Take Control of Your Legal Situation

When facing an appeal or judicial review, seek the guidance of Grigoras Law, your trusted ally in litigation. We are here to represent you, ensuring you have the advocacy and expertise needed to navigate your legal challenges. Take control of your legal situation with confidence, knowing that you have a dedicated and skilled legal team by your side.

Contact Grigoras Law Today

If you are considering an appeal or judicial review, or if you are facing one, don’t hesitate to reach out to our qualified Toronto litigation lawyers. We proudly represent clients across Ontario. Our team is dedicated to offering bespoke solutions, attentively crafted to suit your distinct needs. Choose Grigoras Law for a dedicated and skilled legal team ready to stand by your side every step of the way. We prioritize delivering a high standard of professional service, ensuring every aspect of your case receives focused and expert attention.

At Grigoras Law, we understand the critical impact that appeals and judicial reviews can have on your case. Our commitment to excellence, client-centric approach, and proven success make us the ideal partner for your appeal or judicial review. Trust us to provide the robust legal support you need to achieve the best possible outcome.

Core Practice Areas

Civil Court Appeals

Civil appeals are a cornerstone of Ontario’s justice system, allowing litigants to challenge lower court decisions. The system is shaped by a layered structure of courts and rulings, each with specific roles and appeal guidelines.

  • Understanding the Path of Appeals: Whether it’s orders from the Ontario Court of Justice or rulings by the Small Claims Court, each decision has its designated appeal path. Some appeals go to the Divisional Court, while others head to the Superior Court of Justice or the Court of Appeal. Matters may even escalate to the Supreme Court of Canada, either directly or after passing through the Court of Appeal.

  • Complexities of Appeals: Beyond the basic appeal paths, there are unique cases involving motions, judicial reviews, or varying orders. In these situations, the appeal process may involve additional permissions from courts.

Civil appeals demand a deep grasp of laws, past cases, and strategies. It’s essential to navigate this legal maze effectively.

Family Court Appeals

Family court appeals are steered by specific rules. The appeal’s origin, whether from a Superior Court Judge or an Ontario Court Judge, dictates the process and requirements.

  • Starting an Appeal: Appeals commence by serving a notice to involved parties. The notice must specify the appeal grounds and the contested order.

  • Evidence and Records: Appeals may need transcripts of evidence. Both appellant and respondent must prepare records, which include crucial documents from the original trial. Parties also prepare factums, which present their argument.

  • Timelines and Hearing Schedules: Once filings are complete, hearings are scheduled. Certain appeals, like those linked to child welfare, have stricter timelines. While most appeals rely on original trial facts, new evidence, especially affecting a child’s well-being, can sometimes be introduced.

Deciding which court hears an appeal depends on the order type, its monetary value, and relevant legislation. Appeals in family law typically move faster than others, with some resolved within a few months.

Judicial Review Applications

Judicial reviews ensure fairness and legality in administrative decisions. They’re increasingly popular in Ontario due to the rise of administrative tribunals.

  • What’s a Judicial Review?: It’s a court process to check the fairness and legality of decisions made by tribunals. Typically, these applications go to the Divisional Court, but in urgent situations, the Superior Court of Justice might step in.

  • Scope of Reviews: Reviews focus on decisions from entities with “statutory powers.” They’re not applicable to private entities.

  • Available Remedies: Courts can offer various remedies during a review, including orders, declarations, and injunctions. However, these are at the court’s discretion.

Reviews are different from regular appeals. They ensure the initial decision was reasonable or correct. Given the increasing role of tribunals, understanding judicial reviews becomes crucial.

Craft a strategy that fits your case.

Talk to an Appellate Lawyer

Navigating an appeal can be complex, but our experienced Toronto-based appellate lawyers simplify the process for you. Trust us to provide dedicated, knowledgeable, and insightful representation to help you achieve the best possible outcome for your case.

Appeals