Creative Effective Appeals Advocacy

“Successful appeals and judicial reviews (JRs) 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 or application for judicial review, a comprehensive appeal or application evidentiary record, a persuasive factum of appellate or JR argument, an engaging oral argument of appeal or JR merits, and a positive appeal or JR court judgment.”

— GORDON SCOTT CAMPBELL

Bilingual appeals and judicial reviews to any court in Ontario or the Federal Courts including the Supreme Court of Canada is our business. We offer you expertise, experience and value - including block fee billing inclusive of all disbursements (other than transcripts, printing costs, and filing fees) for almost every case.  

Our commitment to you is a probing evaluation of the trial judgment or decision maker's order and its underlying evidence, a frank explanation of your appeal or judicial review likely prospects of success, and tireless commitment devoted to the advancement of your case in an appellate court or reviewing tribunal. 

The firm acts in family and child protection, criminal, civil, federal court and small claims appeal and judicial review matters, all of which have their own unique sets of rules and challenges which must be addressed head on in order to maximize prospects of case success. 

Family & Child Protection Appeal Lawyer

Why Family & Child Protection Appeals are Different

Family and child protection appeals unique challenges include:

  • much shorter than normal appeal deadlines (often 7 or 15 days);
  • variations in which court an appeal proceeds to (sometimes to Divisional Court and at other times to the Court of Appeal);
  • more parties involved in an appeal than usual (other family members, the CAS, and possibly Office of the Children's Lawyer);
  • special rules governing such appeals;
  • appeal materials must be presented in modified ways. 

On the upside, most courts prioritize the hearing of these appeals over other cases because of the importance to a speedy resolution to the parties lives, and particularly to children's lives. We have experience conducting successful family and child protection appeals at both the Court of Appeal and Divisional Court level. 

Criminal Appeal Lawyer

You've Almost Always Got an Appeal Route for a Criminal Conviction

Because of the importance governments place on avoiding miscarriages of criminal justice, regardless of what level of court you've been convicted by you'll almost always have an appeal route to some kind of appellate court. 

Seeking Bail Pending Appeal Requires Significant Advance Preparation

The best tactic for ensuring you don't needlessly serve time in prison for a trial result that could be successfully appealed is to retain an appeals lawyer to start putting together a bail pending appeal application prior to any sentence being imposed. You'll usually (but not always) have some time between a conviction and sentencing to do this. Advance preparation means the bail pending appeal application can be filed immediately upon any jail time being imposed, and you might only spend a few days (at most) rather than a few weeks in jail while an appellate court considers if bail can be granted pending hearing of the appeal.

Contested appeal bail pending appeal hearings are entirely winnable, but require a strong release plan, including affidavits from sureties, detailed explanations of proposed living and working arrangements, and possibly a significant cash deposit with the court, as the presumption of innocence no longer applies after conviction. Thus the earlier this appeal bail hearing preparation starts prior to trial sentencing, the earlier you might be released from custody.

The Conviction Appeal Process

A conviction appeal involves striking at the heart of the trial court's findings of law and fact which led to a conviction. We'll meticulously comb through the trial record, including every word uttered in the trial transcripts and every page of exhibits, to identify appealable weaknesses from the trial. Examples of trial errors that may be appealable by way of a conviction appeal include:

  • evidence improperly admitted at trial like statements or physical evidence;
  • truly incredible testimony that was incorrectly found at trial to be credible;
  • search warrant or wiretap authorizations that should have been struck down as illegal at trial;
  • improper trial judge instructions to a jury;
  • violations of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms that were brushed aside at trial;
  • a trial judge misapprehending the evidence or misconstruing the legal elements of the offence.

The Sentence Appeal Process

A sentence appeal can proceed in conjunction with a conviction appeal, or independently where success on challenging conviction is unlikely because of overwhelming evidence, but the sentence imposed was harsh, excessive, and outside the range of permissible sanctions. A stand alone sentence appeal may require "leave" to appeal. 

Criminal sentencing is all about being appropriately within "the range" for both the offence and offender in similar cases. If a sentence lands outside of the range - too many days or months or years imprisonment, too high of a fine, inappropriate restitution or forfeiture orders, refusal to consider a discharge or suspended sentence or a conditional sentence, ignoring relevant personal factors like Indigenous status - you may have a successful appeal. A sentence appeal can make the difference between years needlessly spent in jail or tens of thousands of dollars in excessive fines or forfeiture and a "just" sentence. 

Civil Appeal Lawyer

The firm's top two priorities when any potential civil appeal client contacts us are determining in which court your appeal should proceed and how long you have to serve and file your appeal. The answers to these questions aren't always obvious and are at least as important as developing strong grounds of appeal. 

In Ontario, small claims appeals usually go to a single judge of the superior court (Divisional Court in Ontario), superior court civil appeals usually proceed to the court of appeal (or sometimes Divisional Court in Ontario), and court of appeal civil decisions can be challenged through seeking leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada. Civil appeal filing deadlines may be very short.

Federal Court Appeal & Judicial Review Lawyer

The Federal Court hears claims brought against the Federal Crown, cases on a few specialized subjects like aeronautics, maritime, and intellectual property law, as well as judicial reviews from federal organizations and tribunals. Some cases start in the Federal Court trial division (such as many judicial reviews), whereas others proceed directly to the Federal Court of Appeal (like appeals from Tax Court of Canada judgments). 

The Federal Court is a good place to litigate because it permits electronic filing of many documents, the location in which a case is heard can be moved from one court registry office to another office, and its generally a model of court efficiency. However, the Federal Court has its own set of unique rules that practitioners must be well versed in. We regularly appear in the Federal Court and Federal Court of Appeal, and can help you with any matter that needs to proceed there. 

Small Claims Court Appeal Lawyer

In Ontario, all Small Claims Court appeals head to a single judge of the Divisional Court, sitting in the local judicial district where the small claims court trial was heard. 

We Offer Unbundled Legal Services for Small Claims Appeals

Although the amount in dispute in Small Claims may not be as great as in other cases, the firm is regularly retained to assist on such appeals. Sometimes we just provide advice and drafting services for the notice of appeal, including developing the grounds of appeal. At other times we handle the entire appeal. We recognize that cost is an issue for Small Claims appeals, and always quote block fees for such cases so you can assess whether retaining counsel is worth it. 

Small Claims appeals are just as technical as any other appeals, and considerably more technical than Small Claims trials, thus obtaining the assistance of legal counsel can be a great benefit, even if you don't have a lawyer actually do the oral argument of the appeal for you. 

Appeal Opinion Lawyer

Before making the substantial investment that an appeal represents, some clients choose to retain us for a legal opinion which involves reviewing the trial evidence and judgment in order to determine how compelling appeal arguments might be. Opinions are usually billed on an hourly basis and can represent good value in knowing definitively if you've really got something good to appeal, or if you've got a long shot. . 

Contact the firm's appellate practice leader Gordon S. Campbell to discuss your potential appeal prospects. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is an appeal or judicial review like another trial? 

A: No. Trials deal with mostly factual issues having a legal underpinning. Appeals and judicial reviews (JRs) deal with mostly legal issues having a factual underpinning. Generally it's difficult (though not impossible) to appeal solely factual findings of a lower court or tribunal; you need an error of law or mixed fact and law. But overall "misapprehension" of the facts might be serious enough to constitute an error of law subject to appeal, and most trial judgments are worth examining for possible legal errors.   

Q: What are my chances of success on an appeal?

A: We undertake a continual evaluation of case prospects to keep you informed about your likely prospects of success on an appeal. This evaluation is based on a review of the trial transcripts, exhibits and judgment to be appealed, as compared to the state of the law in other similar cases. While it's impossible to give exact percentange chances of success, we can usually establish if a case stands a low, medium or high chance of success on appeal.

While there are no Canada-wide statistics on appeal success rates, the example of Ontario Court of Appeal and Tax Court of Canada statistics may be applicable elsewhere and tend to show that 1 in 4 civil appeals and 1 in 3 criminal appeals achieve some level of success. Chances of success with a qualified experienced lawyer may be higher than those figures.  

Q: So will you tell me if I should appeal or not?

A: We will give you the best legal advice available so that you can make a fully informed decision about whether to appeal. The more important the issues at stake at trial, the more inclined we find our clients are to appeal adverse trial judgments, regardless of cost or prospects. We will not recommend or take on any appeal where we believe there are zero prospects of a successful outcome.

Q: How quickly will an appellate court hear my appeal?

A: You'll usually get an appeal hearing date within a few months of all appeal materials having been filed by all parties with the court, though courts will sometimes expedite some types appeals - like family appeals or in-custody criminal appeals - over other appeals, and some appellate court geographic jurisdictions have a greater case backlogs than other jurisdictions, resulting in longer waits for a hearing date.

Articles for Further Reading on Appeals & Judicial Reviews

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?