How Do I Appeal a Provincial Court Decision?

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Under section 233(1) of the Family Law Act, only final decisions of the Provincial Court can be appealed. Appeals of final decisions of that court are made to the Supreme Court. Interim decisions of the Provincial Court can only be challenged by a judicial review under the aptly named Judicial Review Procedure Act. This information is about appeals to the Supreme Court.

Forms involved[edit]

You can obtain a document package from the Supreme Court's website ( or one of its registries that contains the forms and describes the general rules and procedures for appeals of a Provincial Court decision to the Supreme Court. In general, the rules, forms and the Family Practice Direction (FPD) involved are:

  1. Supreme Court Family Rule 18-3 – Appeals
  2. Supreme Court Family Form F79 – Notice of Appeal if Directions Required
  3. Supreme Court Family Form F80 – Notice of Appeal – Standard Directions
  4. Supreme Court Family Form F77 – Notice of Interest
  5. Supreme Court Family Form F81 – Notice of Hearing of Appeal
  6. Supreme Court Family Form F82 – Notice of Abandonment of Appeal
  7. FPD – 10 – Standard Directions for Appeals from Provincial Court – Family Law Act

Making an appeal to the Supreme Court[edit]

To appeal a decision, you must file a form called a Notice of Appeal in Form F80 within 40 days of the decision. Appeals from the Provincial Court are governed by Rule 18-3 of the Supreme Court Family Rules. This form is a lot more complex than the forms you've used in the Provincial Court. In the form you must indicate:

  1. when the order you are appealing was made,
  2. the name of the judge who made the order,
  3. that you are bringing your appeal pursuant to section 233 of the Family Law Act, and
  4. the reason or reasons why you are bringing the appeal.

Once you've filled out your Notice of Appeal, you must file it in the registry of the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court will charge you a fee to do this. The registry will stamp your Notice of Appeal with the seal of the court, a date stamp, and the file number of your new court proceeding. You must then serve the notice on the other person by personal service, and file another copy of the notice in the Provincial Court registry where the order was made

Reasons for appealing a decision[edit]

When a judge makes a decision following a hearing, the judge does three things. First, the judge makes a decision about the evidence and what the facts of the case are; this is called making a finding of fact. Second, the judge decides what the law applicable to the case is. Third, the judge applies the law to the facts. These last two steps are called findings of law.

You cannot appeal a decision simply because you don't like it. You must have a proper legal reason for bringing the appeal and show that the judge made an error in their findings of fact or an error in their findings of law.

In most cases, you will not be able to appeal a decision because of a mistake in the judge's findings of fact. Because appeal courts do not hear the evidence all over again, unless the trial judge made an enormous error in deciding the facts of the case, the facts that you will rely on at your appeal are the facts as the trial judge found them to be.

Most often, appeals are based on errors in the judge's conclusions about the applicable law or how the judge applied the law to the facts, called an error of law. In appeals like these, the argument is based on a claim that the judge didn't apply the correct legal test or failed to properly apply the legal test.

Since appeals normally deal with legal issues rather than factual issues, they can be quite complex and involve a lot of technical arguments. If you are appealing a judge's decision, you should seriously consider hiring a lawyer.

Deadlines and procedures[edit]

After the other side has been served with your Notice of Appeal, they will have seven days to file a Notice of Interest in Form F77. This form is used to acknowledge your appeal.

Normally you would have to apply to the court for some directions about how your appeal will be conducted. However, because your appeal is about a family law problem, the directions for your appeal are set out in the standard set of directions in Supreme Court Family Practice Direction 10, which is available on the court's website and at the court registry.

According to the Practice Direction, you must order both a transcript of the oral evidence given at the Provincial Court hearing that resulted in the decision you are appealing and a transcript of the judge's reasons for judgment. You must also file proof that you personally served the party within 30 days.

You must file a copy of the transcript with the court and serve it on the opposing party within 45 days of filing the Notice of Appeal. Within 30 days after filing your Notice of Appeal, you must provide proof that you have ordered these transcripts.

Within 45 days after filing the Notice of Appeal, the appellant must file a written outline setting out:

  • the grounds of the appeal,
  • the relief you are seeking, i.e. the order you want the court to make,


  • the factual and legal basis on which you are seeking the relief, including any legal cases you intend to rely on.

You must serve the written outline on the other party at least 21 clear days before the date set for hearing the appeal.

A person who has filed a Notice of Interest must file a response and serve it on the appellant, no less than 14 clear days before the date set for hearing the appeal. The response must set out the factual and legal basis upon which you are opposing the appeal.

The appellant may, but does not have to, file a reply to the response and serve it at least 3 clear days before the date set for hearing the appeal.

Neither party is permitted to use new evidence that was not before the Provincial Court judge, unless they get the permission of the Supreme Court judge.

The cost of appeals[edit]

There are two fees that you'll have to pay to have your appeal heard. First, you'll have to pay a fee to file your Notice of Appeal. Second, and more expensively, you'll have to pay for the transcript of the Provincial Court hearing.

Transcripts are produced by private companies under agreement with the Ministry of Attorney General. You can learn more about these transcription companies, their fees, and the regions and types of court proceedings each is able to serve by visiting the BC Government's website’s court transcripts information page. A court reporter employed by the company retrieves the audio of the hearing from the court and painstakingly transcribes each and every word. J.C. WordAssist Ltd., one of the larger companies that provides this service, charges around $10 to $14 per page (depending on the turnaround time you need) to produce transcripts of court hearings. And the rule of thumb is that each hour of a hearing is about 30 pages of transcript. So a four hour hearing will easily cost over $1,200 to transcribe, plus extra fees for copies.

Be warned! Appeals can be expensive.

This information applies to British Columbia, Canada. Last reviewed for legal accuracy by Trudy Hopman, September 22, 2023.

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