It is a well-known principle that decisions, judgments or orders of a court of competent jurisdiction in Ghana are effective and binding on the parties upon whom the decisions were directed.
Aggrieved party is at the liberty to accept the decision or take the necessary steps to challenge the decision of the court. One of the steps available to the aggrieved party is to appeal against the decision of the court.
An appeal is the process of applying to a higher court for the reversal of a lower court decision.
The decisions of the court can be in the form of a final decision or an interlocutory decision. A decision of a court that terminates or end the entire matter before the court is deemed to be a final decision of the court. However, if the decision is an interim and did not terminate or end the entire matter before the court it is deem to be an interlocutory decision.
In that regard an aggrieved party should first of all determine whether the decision was a final decision or an interlocutory decision to guide the party the necessary steps to challenge the decision.
NOTICE OF APPEAL
If the aggrieved party intends to appeal against the decision of the court, the aggrieved party must file a Notice of Appeal before the same court – in this respect the District Court.
Upon filing the Notice of Appeal, the aggrieved party will be referred to as the Appellant and the opponents shall be referred to as the Respondent.
The Notice of Appeal should set out the grounds for which the aggrieved party intends to rely on the Appeal. The aggrieved party will not be allowed to argue any other grounds which were not indicated in the Notice of Appeal.
If it becomes necessary for the aggrieved party to argue additional grounds, the party will have to seek leave from the Appellate court.
The Notice of Appeal must indicate whether the Appeal is in respect of the whole or part of the decision and the reliefs sought.
THE APPELLATE COURT
It is the High Court of Ghana that have the exclusive jurisdiction to hear all appeals emanating from the District Court.
The prosecution or a person convicted of an office in a criminal case tried by Magistrate or District court shall appeal against the judgement to the High Court. Similarly a person aggrieved by a judgement of a District court in a civil matter may appeal against the judgment to the High Court.
However, if the decision appealed against is an interlocutory judgement or order from the District Court, the aggrieved party will require a leave from the High Court or the District court before the Notice of Appeal can be filed.
TIME TO FILE NOTICE OF APPEAL
The Notice of Appeal has to be filed against the decision of the District Court within three months from the date of the decision appealed against.
However, if the decision appealed against is an interlocutory decision, the aggrieved party must first apply for a leave at the District court within fourteen (14) days from the date of the decision.
In the event the leave is refused by the District court, the party can apply to the High court for the leave within fourteen (14) days from the date upon which the District court refused the leave application.
Where the leave is granted either by the District court or the High Court, the Notice of Appeal has to be filed within fourteen (14) days from the date of the order.
EXTENSION OF TIME
In the event a party is unable to file the Notice of Appeal within the times indicated above, the party can bring an application at the District Court or the High Court for extension of time.
The Application should be brought within one month of the expiration of the times indicated above. The applicant must demonstrate that it has good and substantial reasons for the application and has good cause to persuade the judge to enable the leave to be granted.
SERVICE OF NOTICE
As soon as practical, copies of the Notice of Appeal will be served on all the parties indicated on the Notice of Appeal.
DEPOSIT OR SECURITY
The Registrar of the District shall serve the Appellant the cost of making and forwarding the Appeal to the High Court. Upon service of the Appeal cost, the Appellant will be under the obligation to pay the cost within one month from the notice date.
In the unlikely event the Appellant fails to comply with the above, the appeal shall elapse unless the court grants extension of the time within which to comply with the payment.
RECORD OF APPEAL
Upon payment of the relevant cost, Registrar of the District Court shall then compile all the relevant processes on the records and forward it to the Registrar of the High Court.
The High Court will then be ceased with the jurisdiction to determine the Appeal.
EFFECT OF AN APPEAL
A mere filing of an appeal does not operate as a stay of execution in respect of the judgement or order appealed against. A party who intends to stay or suspend a decision of the court must apply to the court for an order to stay the decision or judgement of the court.
It is therefore advisable that immediately a party files a Notice of Appeal and have intention to suspend or stay it, they should file the necessary processes to stay or suspend it.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.