A guide to representing yourself when you want to appeal a decision made by an associate judge in the Trial Division of the Supreme Court of Victoria

If you are appealing a decision made by an associate judge, you need to know which part of the Supreme Court hears your appeal

  • Trial Division hears appeals against civil decisions made by an associate judge of the Supreme Court of Victoria.
  • Court of Appeal hears appeals against civil decisions made by an associate judge of the Supreme Court of Victoria, if they were referred certain powers by a Trial Division judge.

If it is not obvious which of the above applies, from the Court orders made in your original proceeding, contact the Self-Represented Litigant Coordinator who can check on the Court’s internal systems.

Guide - Appealing a decision made by an associate judge

View the guide below, or download a printable version of this guide at the bottom of the page.

The information in the guide is for people representing themselves throughout the court process. It includes what to do at each stage, what forms you need to complete, what documents you need to provide, court fees and costs that apply and what it means to represent yourself in the Supreme Court.

Time limits

In most cases, you have 14 days from the date the decision was made to serve a Notice of Appeal form on the respondent . The date of the decision is on the Court order.

If there was no other party to the case or the application heard by the associate judge, you have 14 days to file a Notice of Appeal.

Extension of time to appeal

If 14 days have passed, you need to apply for the Court’s permission to extend the time limit. 

You do this when you complete a Notice of Appeal form in Stage 1 of the appeal process and file this form in Stage 2.

The form asks you to briefly explain why you are applying late and any special circumstances, such as illness or injury.

Consider the cost

Before you apply, consider if you have tried all ways to resolve the issue without involving the justice system. 

Legal proceedings in the Supreme Court can be very expensive.  

Court fees

You need to pay court fees at different stages unless you have a fee waiver. 

These include fees for:

  • Filing an appeal from a decision of an associate judge (commencement fee)
  • Filing an interlocutory application (for example, a stay application)
  • Setting down (confirming a date) for the hearing
  • Hearing fees per day or part day.

Costs

If you lose your case, you may need to pay some or all of the other party’s costs . This includes what they spent on lawyers and any other expenses, such as the cost of expert reports. 

Be aware – these costs can be substantial. 

Consider paying for some legal advice even if it is only to help you with a particular part of the process. See organisations that may be able to help you.   

For example, it is highly recommended that a lawyer help you work out your grounds of appeal

Get to know Court procedures

Read the following documents carefully. They provide important information and guidance:

  • Supreme Court (General Civil Procedure) Rules 2015 – rule 77.06
  • Practice Note SC Gen 8 – Appeals from associate judges
  • Practice Note SC Gen 7 – Transcript in Civil Proceedings.

If you contact the Court, quote the proceeding number for your case. You are given this number when your documents are accepted by the Court in Stage 1. It looks something like this S ECI 2019 54321.

Get to know your obligations

As a party in a civil proceeding, you need to understand what’s known as overarching obligations . These are in sections 16-26 of the Civil Procedure Act 2010. 

Do your legal research

Make sure you understand the law that applies to your case by doing some legal research. Read about cases similar to yours.  Note any cases where the law you are relying on has been applied in a way you think proves your arguments. You may want to refer to these cases in your submissions and/or your List of authorities . The Court may ask you to prepare these in Stage 5. 

You can find cases from all courts on the AustLII website. 

Create a RedCrest account  

You file documents with the Court using the online system RedCrest. 

The RedCrest Electronic Filing User Guide has information and instructions. 

Before you file documents, the Court encourages you to contact the Self-represented Litigant Coordinator. The Coordinator can talk to you about Court process and check you have the right documents. They cannot give legal advice.

Check if you need to order a transcript

The parties must order, and pay for, a transcript for all final hearings and sometimes other hearings.

Read Practice Note SC Gen 7 (Transcript in Civil Proceedings) to know when and how to get the transcript. 

Get to know legal terms 

Check the glossary for common legal words and terms. 

Know how to stop an appeal

The process for stopping an appeal differs depending on whether the original proceeding was started by writ

See order 25 of the Supreme Court (General Civil Procedure) Rules 2015.

In most cases, you can stop the appeal with the consent of all parties or permission from the Court.

Be aware that if you stop your appeal, you usually need to pay the respondent’s costs up to that point unless:

  • you and the respondent agree you do not have to pay their costs, or
  • the Court orders that you do not have to pay their costs.

To stop your appeal, complete a Notice of Discontinuance form and sign it. Ask the respondent to sign the form too, to show they agree. Then file the form and wait for RedCrest to advise that a copy with the Court’s seal is available. Download and print the sealed copy and serve it on the respondent. 

If the respondent will not sign the form, you need to get the Court’s permission to stop your appeal. Contact the Self-represented Litigant Coordinator.

You must start your appeal within 14 days of the decision you want to appeal. If you are starting later, see below.

To start your appeal:

  • complete a Notice of Appeal form, and
  • serve it on the respondent .

Complete your Notice of Appeal form

Put the division and list name in the top left-hand corner of the form. You can find these details at the top of the order you are appealing. 

Say on the form if you are appealing the whole decision or part of it. If you are appealing part of the decision, say which part.

If you are starting your appeal more than 14 days after the original decision, complete the Leave to appeal section in the form. This is your request for the Court’s permission to hear your appeal late.

Understand what the judge can order

Rule 77.06.9 of the Supreme Court (General Civil Procedures) Rules 2015 states the powers the judge has when deciding on your appeal. It might help you work out what grounds of appeal are relevant. For example, the judge has the power to:
consider further evidence on questions of fact, whether from an affidavit or from a sworn statement
draw conclusions based on facts
give any decision or make any order that should have been given in the original proceeding
make any other order the case may require.

Grounds of appeal

Clearly state on the Notice of Appeal your grounds of appeal – concise explanations for why you think the associate judge made the wrong decision from a legal point of view. Number your grounds of appeal paragraphs, so it is easy for the judge to refer to a paragraph number during the proceeding. 

Keep your grounds of appeal concise and to the point. You will get a chance to present your case in full during the final hearing in Stage 7.

Working out your grounds of appeal can be difficult. Consider engaging a lawyer to help you with this part of the process. The success of your appeal depends on the strength of these arguments.

Serve your Notice of Appeal on the respondent

You can now serve your completed Notice of Appeal on the respondent, or respondents if there is more than one.

Stage 1 checklist 
Complete a Notice of Appeal form
Serve it on the respondent
 

Find out the details for your hearing

Email or phone the Self-represented Litigant Coordinator to find out key details for your hearing, including:

  • date
  • time
  • location
  • name of the judge conducting the hearing, and
  • if it is a directions hearing or a final hearing.

Remember to quote your proceeding number when you contact the Court. Your proceeding number is the same as for your original proceeding. Once you have these hearing details, add them to your Notice of Appeal .

File your Notice of Appeal in RedCrest

No later than seven days after serving the Notice of Appeal on the respondent , you must file your Notice of Appeal in RedCrest. Attach to your Notice of Appeal a list of all the respondents you served, the date you served them and how you served (whether in person or by post). Sign this form before you file it.

The Court will notify you in RedCrest when your Notice of Appeal, and list of any respondents served, has been accepted and is available for download. The Notice of Appeal will now have the Court’s seal on it.

Stage 2 checklist 

  • Find out the date and details for your hearing
  • Add these details to your Notice of Appeal
  • File your Notice of Appeal
  • Watch for a RedCrest notification that your documents are accepted

No later than seven days after RedCrest notified you that your Notice of Appeal form is accepted, you must:

  • serve the Notice of Appeal (which now includes the hearing details) on the respondent , and
  • file your appeal book with the Court.

Serve your Notice of Appeal with hearing details

Serve your Notice of Appeal on the respondent. The Notice of Appeal includes the hearing details you found out and added to the form in Stage 2. This step officially advises the respondent of the hearing details.

You need to pay a court fee for ‘filing an appeal from a decision of an associate judge’, unless you have a fee waiver.

Prepare and file your appeal book

An appeal book is a hard copy folder that contains documents you will rely on during your proceeding. Clearly label each document so it is easy for the judge to find and refer to the documents.

You file this folder of documents (your appeal book) by giving it to the Principal Registry . You can either take it to the Principal Registry counter in person, post it or give it to one of the Supreme Court’s regional registry offices who will courier it to the Principal Registry.

The appeal book must include the Notice of Appeal and order you are appealing.

You may also need any of these documents below, if they are relevant to the hearing and deciding of your appeal:

  • the process before the associate judge (for example, a summons )
  • any written submissions made to the associate judge
  • all evidence presented to the associate judge during the original proceeding
  • transcript of the hearing that led to the order you are appealing
  • written reasons provided in the decision made by the associate judge.

Number each page of the appeal book. If you do not have the transcript or reasons for the decision, you will need to get these and add them to the appeal book as soon as possible.

Stage 3 checklist 

  • No later than seven days after your documents were accepted, serve the Notice of Appeal (with hearing details) on the respondent
  • File your appeal book

Once you have served your documents on the respondent , they may do nothing or they may respond in a number of other ways. For example, the respondent may:

  • File a Notice of Appearance and serve it on you. A Notice of Appearance is how a respondent officially lets you and the Court know that they want to be involved in the proceeding.
  • Make an application to the Court of their own. There are many different types of applications the respondent can make. You can read about them in the Supreme Court (General Civil Procedure) Rules 2015, Supreme Court (Miscellaneous Civil Proceedings) Rules 2018 and the relevant law.
  • File an affidavit opposing your application.

The respondent must serve on you any documents they file with the Court.

Stage 4 checklist 

  • The respondent may file documents with the Court and serve them on you

In Stage 2, the Court gave you a date for your directions hearing or final hearing

If your case is only given a date for a final hearing, you can skip this stage.

A directions hearing is a short hearing to decide matters related to the timing of when things happen during the proceeding, including what has to happen, who does it and when it needs to be done.

Following the directions hearing, the Court will send you a formal copy of the Court’s orders detailing what you and the other parties need to do to prepare for the trial.

Depending on the complexity of the case, there may be more than one directions hearing.

The applicant and respondent are both expected to attend a directions hearing (and final hearing). If you cannot attend for any substantial reason, for example if you have a medical emergency, contact the Court immediately.

Stage 5 checklist 

  • Attend the directions hearing, if one is needed

Follow the Court’s instructions

If you had a directions hearing , the orders made after that hearing will tell you what you need to do to get your case ready for the judge. This includes which documents to prepare and when they need to be filed with the Court. Watch our video Preparing for a hearing.

Prepare to present at your hearing

Prepare yourself for the hearing by watching our video Attending Court – the day of your hearing.

Stage 6 checklist 

  • Follow the Court’s instructions about what you need to do to prepare for the hearing
  • Get information on how to prepare for your hearing and what to expect by watching the Court’s videos

Finding out your hearing date

The Court will send you an order that confirms the date for your final hearing.

What to expect at the hearing

To help understand what to expect at the trial, including what to bring with you, how to address the judge, where to sit and what you will need to do, watch our video Attending Court – the day of your hearing. 

Stage 7 checklist

  • Attend the final hearing

When to expect the decision

The judge usually reserves their decision (judgment ). This means they do not give a judgment on the day of the hearing but at a later date. This gives the judge time to consider both parties’ submissions and write reasons for their decision. You can expect a decision within weeks or months of the final hearing, depending on the complexity of the case.

Finding out the decision

The Court will email you a date and time when you need to return to Court to get the judge’s decision. This is called the handing down of the decision. Applicants and respondents are expected to attend. However, if you do not attend the Court will email you the decision.

At the handing down of the decision, if you lose the appeal the respondent usually asks the Court to order you to pay their costs . If you win, you can ask the Court to order the respondent to pay your costs.

If your appeal is dismissed

If your appeal is dismissed (rejected), you can seek leave to appeal this decision to the Court of Appeal .

Stage 8 checklist 

  • Attend the handing down of the decision
  • Know your options if your appeal is dismissed

If you require further assistance contact the Self-Represented Litigant Coordinator.