Higher Courts


If you don't agree with a lower court's decision, you can try to challenge it. To do this, you have to go before an "appeal court" and ask for a decision in your favour. Different appeal courts handle different situations, so it's important to be familiar with them.


What Is an Appeal?

An appeal is a chance to find out whether a judge in a lower court made a mistake when interpreting events that took place or when applying the law to the facts of the case. So, a person who believes the trial court's decision is wrong can ask an appeal court to review it. In some cases, you have to ask the judge for permission to appeal. The judge then has to decide whether the decision needs to be reviewed.

In an appeal court, there are usually no witnesses and no new evidence. Instead, the judges make their decisions based on the evidence from the trial and on the law.


The Court of Québec and the Superior Court

The Court of Québec and the Superior Court can have two roles. Sometimes they can act as trial courts and in some very specific situations, they can act as appeal courts.

Here are some situations where the Court of Québec acts as an appeal court:

  • cases dealing with police conduct
  • some cases between landlords and tenants

Here are some situations where the Superior Court acts as an appeal court:

  • cases dealing with youth protection
  • some criminal and penal cases


The Court of Appeal of Québec

The Court of Appeal of Québec hears most of the appeals in Quebec in many fields of law.

The only place where a decision of the Court of Appeal of Québec can be challenged is in the Supreme Court of Canada.  


Federal Court of Appeal

The Federal Court of Appeal hears appeals of decisions of the Federal Court and of federal administrative tribunals such as the Copyright Board and the Canadian Transportation Agency.


Supreme Court of Canada

The Supreme Court of Canada is located in Ottawa. It is the highest court in the country. Supreme Court judges hear cases from all over the country dealing with all fields of law.

Basically, the Supreme Court makes sure the decisions made in Canada by the various courts of appeal are correct. But it only hears cases that are very important and that require its involvement.

Nine judges sit on the Supreme Court of Canada. They don't all have to hear every case, but at least five of them must take part. It is important to have an odd number of judges so there will be a majority decision.  

The decisions of the Supreme Court are final, that is, they can't be appealed. These decisions have a big influence on the decisions of other courts in the country.

Important !
This article explains in a general way the law that applies in Quebec. This article is not a legal opinion or legal advice. To find out the specific rules for your situation, consult a lawyer or notary.