What Makes for a Successful Appeal?

Successful appeals require a probing ‘360’ examination of a lower court’s judgment or decision maker’s order and its underlying evidence and arguments from every conceivable angle. The results of that examination build the foundation of a solid notice of appeal, a comprehensive appeal evidentiary record, a persuasive factum of appellate argument, an engaging oral argument of appeal merits, and a positive appeal court judgment.
— Gordon S. Campbell

What Makes for a Successful Trial?

Successful trials require a careful assessment of what the ‘optimal result’ is most likely to look like after a comprehensive inventory has been taken of the key trial tools: (1) available witnesses and real/documentary evidence, (2) current state of legislation & caselaw, (3) resources available to pursue case to end of trial, (4) where sympathies of court will likely fall based on best facts that can be advanced and a judge’s perception of what a ‘fair’ result might be, and (5) what types of result would be most useful to the client.
— Gordon S. Campbell

Why You Need to Act Fast on an Appeal

Even if you've already received an adverse judgment at a hearing or trial before a tribunal or court, there's almost always a higher court to which an appeal or judicial review can be brought, and sometimes there may be more than one level of appeal that is possible. But you need to act quickly because of very short appeal and judicial review filing limitation periods.

Usually you've never got more than 30 days from the time of oral judgment to file an appeal. Sometimes you've only got 15 days or even 7 days.

And the time can start to run from the moment you receive an oral judgment. Not from the time written reasons are released. And not from the time a costs order is dealt with. In case of doubt (and unfortunately law if rife with doubt), always assume your appeal period is the shortest possible and act accordingly. 

Don't wait 3 weeks to get an appointment with a lawyer, or 3 months to raise the funds to hire a lawyer. You don't have that time, and the court won't usually care about your excuses. Far better to file an imperfect notice of appeal on time (that can be amended later), than a perfect one far too late.

Do try to obtain some legal advice about your potential prospects of success before getting started on an appeal. But filing "protective" notices of appeal that protect client rights in case an appeal is judged to be a good idea are common. Even when lawyers are involved in appeals right from the start, they may need to order and analyse transcripts of trial proceedings prior to being able to determine the strength of appeal grounds. 

Why You Need to Still Act Diligently on a Trial Level Proceeding

Trial civil litigation likewise has strict time limitations and burdens of proof for the facts and the law that need to be carefully assessed before filing a statement of claim, notice of application, or responding to an action or application brought against you, your business or your organization. 

If you're served with court documents, you can't put off filing a defence beyond the limit specific on the document (often only 20 days). Even if you can't get an appointment with a lawyer in that time, don't delay and file something so that you aren't "noted in default." Defaults can lead to very unjust results, as all the allegation mades and damages claimed may be found by a court to be true, even if they aren't, because you never objected in a timely manner. 

Our Appeal and Civil Litigation Services

The firm undertakes:

  • Appeals as of right and with leave to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, the Court of Appeal for Ontario, the Tax Court of Canada, the Federal Court of Canada, the Federal Court of Appeal, the Supreme Court of Canada, as well as administrative board and tribunal appellate authorities like the Immigration and Refugee Appeal Board
  • Judicial Reviews to the Divisional Court of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice and the Federal Court of Canada challenging administrative decisions or actions of government or regulatory bodies
  • Civil Applications and Actions before the Ontario Superior Court of Justice and the Federal Court seeking damages, the return of property, the determination of property rights, injunctive relief stopping objectionable activity or requiring action to happen
  • Civil Actions in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice - Small Claims Court seeking damages or return of property of no more than $25,000 in value
  • Representation and advocacy before Ontario and Federal Administrative Tribunals and Boards

The Appeals & Civil Litigation Legal Team

Gordon Scott Campbell, the firm's Managing Lawyer and Senior Barrister, has decades of experience and success in front of all Ontario and Federal appellate and trial courts, including at the Supreme Court of Canada. He has conducted numerous appeals and hundreds of trials all with the same aim: achieving the best result possible for the client.

He and his team of other lawyers, law clerks and law students can advise you on what is the optimal outcome that can likely be obtained in front of an appellate or trial court for your matter, and the best litigation strategy to pursue in order to obtain that outcome, regardless of whether you are the appellant/respondent in an appeal or applicant/plaintiff/respondent/defendant in a trial proceeding.

The Appeals Dedicated Website

At you'll find the firm's website dedicate to appellate practice which contains more detailed information about the appeals process, and ways to evaluate your prospects of success. 

Articles for Further Reading on Appeals & Civil Litigation

Top Three Considerations in Deciding Whether to Appeal a Judgment

Five Things to Never Do if You Want to Successfully Appeal a Decision that Sucks

Can I Appeal an Appeal I Lost?

Five Commandments for Cost-Effective Civil Litigation

Top Small Claims Court Mistakes to Avoid