In certain circumstances, cases can be appealed to the various European courts but the order of the Supreme Court remains in place and is binding on all parties.
An order of the High Court must be appealed to the Supreme Court within 21 days of the perfection of the order of the High Court. This period of time can be extended if the circumstances justify such an extension.
Once a Notice of Appeal has been served on the other side then the following documents must be lodged with the Supreme Court office:
- The Notice of Appeal itself.
- Copy of the relevant High Court Order.
- Five books of appeal (or three books in a personal injury case). Each book of appeal must contain all the documents that the appellant will be relying on at the appeal hearing itself. The book of appeal must be indexed and must also be served on the other side. The book of pleadings will include all the High Court pleadings including all relevant affidavits and exhibits.
- Transcript of evidence and any legal submissions.
- If there is no transcript of evidence then an agreed note of the evidence should be arrived at, generally by the barristers involved in the case.
Once this documentation has been lodged, a certificate of readiness will be prepared and once it has been signed and returned to the Supreme Court office, the appeal is then ready to be assigned a hearing date.
There are very substantial delays in cases coming on for hearing in the Supreme Court and there is provision to apply for priority if the circumstances justify such an application. At the present time the delays in the Supreme Court are extremely substantial with cases taking over three years to come on for hearing. Even where a case is given priority it can often be 9 months before the case can be dealt with.
One of the reasons why there are such substantial delays in the Supreme Court is because urgent cases such as cases involving children or matters of substantial public importance will take priority and will be dealt with ahead of the normal day to day High Court actions appealed to the Supreme Court.
It should be noted that when a case comes up for hearing in the Supreme Court, no new factual evidence can be given to the court and generally no witnesses are called. For this reason, findings of fact are rarely interfered with in the Supreme Court unless there is no reasonable evidence to support such a finding of fact by the High Court judge. If therefore the High Court judge makes certain findings of fact and the final decision is based on those findings of fact, it makes it very difficult to advise a client to appeal to the Supreme Court knowing that the Supreme Court will very rarely substitute their own findings of fact for the findings made by the High Court judge, who would have had an opportunity to see witnesses give evidence and make decisions based on the manner in which evidence is given.