Appeals (Higher Courts)

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The Court of Appeal is the highest court in the state jurisdiction. It is empowered to hear appeals from all courts including the Supreme Court of Victoria, the act that governs this is the Supreme Court Act 1986 (Vic).

Generally an appeal falls into a number of grounds. The first is the ‘unsafe or dangerous direction’ where the appeal is basically lodged when there was a solid obstacle from reaching a decision as to guilt beyond reasonable doubt. The leading case that established this grounds of appeal is Morris v R [1987] HCA 50; (1987) 163 CLR 454.

The second category of appeal is that there has been a miscarriage of justice that has occurred at trial. This is frequently in relation to jury directions, rules of evidence, a wrong decision on a question of law. The third avenue of appeal is that there has been a substantial miscarriage of justice, this could be factual or something that occurs in the investigation which substantially prejudiced the trial of the accused. The court can also hear an appeal on a question of law, as previously discussed.

There are numerous grounds for which appeal has been granted, it includes inadequate or prejudicial statements to the jury, failure to apply the law to the facts of the case, questions of inadmissibility of evidence, tainted jury, incompetent defence at trial, mistaken or misled jury, bias by the jury or judge and fresh evidence. It is to be noted that appellant law is in some ways the most complex area of law. If you wish to lodge an appeal it is imperative that you contact a lawyer as soon as possible so that they can review your grounds and prospect of appeal and then lodge a notice of appeal within time.

Judicial Review

A judicial review is conducted by the Supreme Court and is empowered to be heard under Order 56 of the Supreme Court (General Civil Procedure) Rules. It is a relatively rare occurrence and uses the Supreme Court superior jurisdiction to correct inferior courts on a question of jurisdiction. For example if a Tribunal is operating ultra vires (outside its jurisdiction) or there has been some sort of breach of natural justice.

The High Court

After losing in the Supreme Court of Appeal an appeal to the High Court can be heard. This is extremely difficult to achieve and requires special leave from the High Court to hear the case in Canberra. For a High Court decision in relation to jury directions in a murder case from the Victorian Supreme Court of Appeal please see The Queen v Nguyen [2010] HCA 38. The verdict was considered ‘unsafe and unsatisfactory’ and a ‘substantial miscarriage of justice’.

If you wish to file an Appeal or seek advice in relation to one, call our office to speak to one of our lawyers. Grigor Lawyers can can advise and represent you in these matters.


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