Business, Legal & Accounting Glossary

Definition: Appeal


Quick Summary of Appeal

To appeal a judicial decision is to request that a more senior judicial body or court of law review that decision (which, presumably, was taken by a lower court). In England, an appeal may be made on a number of different grounds (e.g. points of fact, points of law, etc.). The nature of this ground may influence the precise route that the appeal will take.

What is the dictionary definition of Appeal?

Dictionary Definition

  1. Be attractive to.
  2. Take a court case to a higher court for review.
  3. Challenge (a decision).
  4. Request earnestly (something from somebody); ask for aid or protection.
  5. Cite as an authority; resort to.
  6. (law) a legal proceeding in which the appellant resorts to a higher court for the purpose of obtaining a review of a lower court decision and a reversal of the lower court’s judgment or the granting of a new trial.
  7. Earnest or urgent request.
  8. Request for a sum of money.
  9. Attractiveness that interests or pleases or stimulates.

A written request to a higher court to modify or reverse the judgment of a trial court or intermediate level appellate court. Normally, an appellate court accepts as true all the facts that the trial judge or jury found to be true, and decides only whether the judge made mistakes in understanding and applying the law. If the appellate court decides that a mistake was made that changed the outcome, it will direct the lower court to conduct a new trial, but often the mistakes are deemed “harmless” and the judgment is left alone. Some mistakes are corrected by the appellate court — such as a miscalculation of money damages — without sending the case back to the trial court. An appeal begins when the loser at trial — or in an intermediate level appellate court — files a notice of appeal, which must be done within strict time limits (often 30 days from the date of judgment). The loser (called the appellant) and the winner (called the appellee) submit written arguments (called briefs) and often make oral arguments explaining why the lower court’s decision should be upheld or overturned.

Full Definition of Appeal

An appeal is the act or fact of challenging a judicially cognizable and binding decision to a higher judicial authority. In common law jurisdictions, most commonly, this means formally filing a notice of appeal with a lower court, indicating one’s intention to take the matter to the next higher court with jurisdiction over the matter, and then actually filing the appeal with the higher court.

An appeal allows the defendant to bring their case to a higher court with the goal of getting a reversal of the conviction from the lower court. The appeal does not allow new evidence to be presented, but only allows the court to examine the trial record to determine if the legal proceeding was properly conducted.

Increasingly in the United States, binding decisions can be issued in civil matters by arbitrators, referees, masters, commissioners, and administrative law judges in hearings and proceedings generally classed as alternative dispute resolution. If unchallenged, these decisions have the power to settle more minor legal disputes once and for all. If one is dissatisfied with the finding of such a tribunal, one generally has the power to appeal. In some cases, the appellate step is not an appeal as such, but is known as a trial de novo. What the latter term means is that all issues and evidence may be developed newly, as though never heard before, and one is not restricted to the evidence heard in the lower proceeding. Sometimes, however, the decision of the lower proceeding is itself admissible as evidence, thus helping to curb frivolous appeals.

Civil court decisions are harder to appeal than criminal convictions. Generally, you have 30 days from the date on which the verdict was entered to appeal a civil court decision (exceptions exist if you are suing the U.S. Federal Government). Talk to a personal injury lawyer if you are considering filing an appeal in a civil case. They will have the knowledge to draft the appropriate legal appeals documents. Civil appeals are generally not successful unless you can prove the judge made an error which adversely affected their legal decision.

In an appeal from a decision in a judicial proceeding, both appellant and respondent are bound to base their arguments wholly on the proceedings and body of evidence as they were presented in the lower proceeding. Each seeks to prove to the higher court that the result they desired was the just result. Precedent and case law figure prominently in the arguments. In order for the appeal to succeed, the appellant must prove that the lower court committed reversible error that is, an impermissible action by the court acted to cause a result that was unjust, and which would not have resulted had the court acted properly. Some examples of reversible error would be permitting seriously improper argument by an attorney, admitting or excluding evidence improperly, acting outside the court’s jurisdiction, injecting bias into the proceeding or appearing to do so, juror misconduct, etc. The failure to formally object at the time, to what one views as improper action in the lower court, may result in the dismissal of an appeal on the grounds that one did not “preserve the issue for appeal” by objecting.

In some rare cases, an appellant may successfully argue that the law under which the lower decision was rendered was unconstitutional or otherwise invalid, or may convince the higher court to order a new trial on the basis that evidence earlier sought was concealed or only recently discovered. In the case of new evidence, there must be a high probability that its presence or absence would have made a material difference in the trial. Another issue suitable for appeal in criminal cases is adequacy of counsel. If one faces a severe penalty and can prove that he did not get a fair hearing because of incompetency on the part of his lawyer, a new trial may be forthcoming.

Examples of Appeal in a sentence

He was found guilty but appealed immediately.
Appeal to somebody for help.
She appealed the verdict.
I appealed to the law of 1900.
Their appeal was denied in the superior court.
An appeal for help.
An appeal to the public to keep calm.
An appeal to raise money for starving children.
His smile was part of his appeal to her.

Cite Term

To help you cite our definitions in your bibliography, here is the proper citation layout for the three major formatting styles, with all of the relevant information filled in.

Page URL
Modern Language Association (MLA):
Appeal. Payroll & Accounting Heaven Ltd.
September 26, 2023
Chicago Manual of Style (CMS):
Appeal. Payroll & Accounting Heaven Ltd. (accessed: September 26, 2023).
American Psychological Association (APA):
Appeal. Retrieved September 26, 2023
, from website:

Definition Sources

Definitions for Appeal are sourced/syndicated and enhanced from:

  • A Dictionary of Economics (Oxford Quick Reference)
  • Oxford Dictionary Of Accounting
  • Oxford Dictionary Of Business & Management

This glossary post was last updated: 26th November, 2021 | 0 Views.