Appellate court

court of law empowered to hear an appeal of a trial court or other lower tribunal

An appellate court, commonly called an appeals court, court of appeals (American English),[1] appeal court (British English),[2] court of second instance or second instance court, is any court of law that hears an appeal of a trial court or other lower tribunal. In most jurisdictions, the court system is divided into at least three levels. The trial court, which initially hears cases and reviews evidence and testimony to determine the facts of the case. There is at least one intermediate appellate court. The top level is a supreme court (or court of last resort) which primarily reviews the decisions of the intermediate courts. A jurisdiction's supreme court is that jurisdiction's highest appellate court.[3] Appellate courts nationwide can operate by varying rules.[4]

The authority of appellate courts to review decisions of lower courts varies widely from one jurisdiction to another. In some places, the appellate court has limited powers of review. "Generally speaking, an appellate court's judgment provides 'the final directive of the appeals courts as to the matter appealed, setting out with specificity the court's determination that the action appealed from should be affirmed, reversed, remanded or modified'".[5]


  1. "Court of appeals". Archived from the original on 2011-07-18. Retrieved 2012-01-08.
  2. Delmar Karlen, 'Civil Appeals: English and American Approaches Compared', William & Mary Law Review, Vol. 21, Issue 1 (1979), p. 130
  3. "Supreme Court". Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 11th Edition. Retrieved October 26, 2012 from
  4. "A Guide to Illinois Civil Appellate Procedure" (PDF). Appellate Lawyers Association. Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 July 2015. Retrieved 7 July 2015.
  5. State v. Randolph, 210 N.J. 330, 350 n.5 (2012), citing Mandel, New Jersey Appellate Practice (Gann Law Books 2012), chapter 28:2