Court of Appeal

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The Court of Appeal or England and Wales is an Appellate Court, constituting the second most senior court in the English legal system. Only the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom sits above it. Established by the Judicature Act 1873, the Court of Appeal today has a Civil Division, for hearing appeals from the High Court of Justice, County Courts, and several tribunals; and a Criminal Division for hearing appeals from the Crown Court and Magistrates' Courts. Its staff of 37 Lords Justices of Appeal hear both civil appeals and criminal appeals, led by the Master of the Rolls and the Lord Chief Justice respectively. Permission to appeal is required, either from the lower court or the Court of Appeal itself. Decisions may be additionally appealed to the Supreme Court.

The Civil Division deals with all non-criminal cases, and has been part of the Court since its founding in 1873. It is bound by the decisions of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom and the House of lords. The Civil Division is also bound by its own earlier decisions, with four exceptions: (i) where a previous decision was made on the basis of faulty or mistaken knowledge of the law; (ii) where two previous decisions are in direct conflict with each other; (iii) where there is a later, conflicting Supreme Court or House of lords decision; and (iv) where a law was assumed to exist in a previous case but did not. The first three exceptions were established in Young v Bristol Aeroplane Co Ltd (1946); the fourth was established in R (on the application of Kadhim) v Brent London Borough Housing Benefit Review Board (2001).

The Criminal Division hears all appeals in criminal cases, from both the Crown Court and the Magistrates' Courts, and was established in 1966 with the merger of the Court of Criminal Appeal into the Court of Appeal. Although it is bound by the decisions of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom and the House of lords, the Criminal Division is somewhat more flexible than the Civil Division in relation to its own (earlier) decisions, due to the heightened stakes in a case where a possible penalty is a prison sentence.

See also Court system of England, Lord Justice of Appeal.





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