Legal Appeals Process

The legal appeals process is a safeguard whereby different and more senior judges can confirm or overturn the decisions of lower courts. 

There will always be miscarriages of justice no matter how carefully judges are appointed and do their jobs.  Within a country, appeals can be escalated up through the hierarchy of courts as far as a Supreme Court.

A further safeguard is available for people in EU member countries, by escalating cases to the European Court of Justice:

“Appeals on points of law only may be brought before the Court of Justice against judgments and orders of the General Court. If the appeal is admissible and well founded, the Court of Justice sets aside the judgment of the General Court. Where the state of the proceedings so permits, the Court of Justice may itself decide the case. Otherwise, it refers the case back to the General Court, which is bound by the decision given by the Court of Justice on the appeal.”

There is also a legal appeals process for people in the 46 Member States of the Council of Europe.  That includes Britain, which is no longer an EU member, and several countries waiting to join the EU.  Cases are heard at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

Further appeals can be referred to the International Court of Justice in The Hague.  The availability of these processes both reduces the likelihood of miscarriages of justice and increases people’s confidence in the legal system as a whole.


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This page is intended to form part of Edition 4 of the Patterns of Power series of books.  An archived copy of it is held at https://www.patternsofpower.org/edition04/5264.htm.