I am unhappy with the Court’s decision and believe it was unfair. Can I appeal to a higher court?

High Court, Supreme Court of Appeal, or the Constitutional Court Appeals - Abduroaf

I am not happy with the Court’s decision. I believe it was unfair. What can I do? Can I take the decision on Appeal to the High Court, Supreme Court of Appeal, or the Constitutional Court?

If you have an issue that can best be resolved through a court of law, then instituting legal proceedings is what you must do. This would apply if someone owed you money, you have a dispute regarding your rights, or you want to have access to your child. If you were a party to a legal matter that was adjudicated in a Court of Law in South Africa, and you are not happy with the outcome, you have a right to appeal the decision. This article deals broadly with the issue of appeal to the High Court, Supreme Court of Appeal, or the Constitutional Court. Please note the appeal process from the Magistrate’s Court to the High Court is different from that of the High Court to the Supreme Court of Appeal and the Constitutional Court. Therefore, only take this article as a guide. Consult with an attorney or advocate should you require more, and specific information relating to your case.

Trial or Application Court Decision:

The legal process typically begins with a trial or application court, where a judge or magistrate makes a decision on a case. This would be the court of first instance.

Notice of Appeal:

If a party is dissatisfied with the decision of the court of first instance, they may file a notice of appeal within a specified time frame, indicating their intention to appeal. This document should be well drafted as the appeal court, court of first instance, and the parties involved would need to know what is the basis for your appeal.

Obtaining the Record of Proceedings:

The appellant (party filing the appeal) must obtain a complete record of the proceedings from the trial court. This record includes the transcripts, evidence, and other relevant documents. Basically, the appeal court would determine whether the court of first instance erred in its judgment based on the information before it.

Preparation of Appeal Documents:

The appellant, through legal representation, prepares the necessary appeal documents, which typically include a notice of appeal, a concise statement of the grounds of appeal, and other relevant documents.

Filing the Appeal:

The appeal documents are filed with the appropriate appellate court, along with the required fees.

Service on the Other Party:

The appellant is usually required to serve a copy of the appeal documents on the other party or parties involved in the case.

Respondent’s Answering Affidavit:

The respondent (the other party) may file an answering affidavit responding to the grounds of appeal.

Heads of Argument:

Both parties submit written arguments (heads of argument) outlining their legal positions to the court before the appeal hearing. This would assist the appeal court when dealing with the case.

Appeal Hearing:

The appellate court conducts a hearing where both parties present their arguments. The court may ask questions, and the parties or their legal representatives may respond.


The appeal court delivers a judgment either immediately after the hearing or at a later date. The judgment may affirm, set aside, or modify the decision of the trial court.

Further Appeals:

In some cases, there may be the possibility of further appeals to higher courts, such as the Supreme Court of Appeal or the Constitutional Court, depending on the nature of the case.

It’s crucial to consult with a legal professional or refer to the latest legal resources for the most up-to-date and accurate information on the appeal process in South Africa. Legal procedures can change, and specific details may vary depending on the type of case and the court involved.

If you are unhappy with a court decision and require legal assistance regarding a possible appeal, feel free to contact us for assistance.

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Advocate South Africa

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Call 0211110090
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