A guide to representing yourself in a Court of Appeal civil proceeding.

The Court of Appeal is the part of the Supreme Court you apply to if you want to appeal a decision.

This page deals with civil matters, if you want to appeal a decision made by a Supreme Court judge in a criminal matter, visit Criminal Appeals for information.

Guide - Court of Appeal civil proceedings

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 of Victoria.

Types of appeals we hear

The Supreme Court of Victoria has two main parts: Trial Division and Court of Appeal .

Court of Appeal can hear appeals against decisions made:

  • by judges in the Trial Division of the Supreme Court of Victoria
  • by associate judges, if the matter was referred to them by a Trial Division Supreme Court judge
  • in a company’s application to set aside a statutory demand
  • by judges in the County Court of Victoria
  • by the president or a vice president of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).

Most cases need leave to appeal

In almost all cases, you need the Court’s permission to have your appeal heard. This is called leave to appeal.

The Court will only give permission if your case has a real chance of success. If you are not given leave to appeal your case will be dismissed (will not continue).

You do not need permission if you are appealing a decision: 

  • to refuse a legal action that challenges the legality of someone being detained (in legal terms known as habeas corpus)
  • made under the Serious Offenders Act 2018.

Time limits

You have 28 days, from the date of the decision, to complete and file the documents needed to start your appeal. 

Extension of time limit

If 28 days have already passed, you must request an extension of time at the same time you file Form 64A and other documents in Stage 1 of the appeal process.

If the extension is 14 days or less and you are not appealing an interlocutory decision, request an extension by filing:

  • Form 64B (in addition to Form 64A and other documents). These extensions are granted automatically.

If the extension is more than 14 days and/or you are appealing an interlocutory decision, request an extension by filing:

  • Form 64B
  • affidavit – including a timeline of the events that led up to you not filing your documents in time and any evidence that supports this, such as a medical certificate
  • written submissions, of no more than five pages, explaining in detail why you should get an extension based on the facts and evidence in your affidavit .

The Court of Appeal Registrar usually decides extension requests, without a hearing , based on the documents you submit. The key issues that are relevant to your extension request are:

  • why you did not file your appeal documents in time
  • whether your proposed appeal has a real chance of success.

TIP: If the Registrar does not give you an extension, you can ask for a judge to consider your request. The judge will make a decision based on the documents you submit. In some cases, your request may be decided at a hearing that you need to attend.

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.  

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. For example, it is highly recommended that a lawyer help you prepare your grounds of appeal and your written case. These are two key things you need to argue your case. See organisations that may be able to help you with free and low-cost legal help..   

You need to pay court fees at various stages, unless you have a fee waiver. These might include for:

  • Starting an appeal or applying for leave to appeal
  • Extension of time application
  • Other applications (for example, a stay application)
  • Mediation , per day or part day
  • Setting down (confirming a date) for the hearing
  • Hearing fees, per day or part day.

Get to know Court procedures

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

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 APCI 2018 54321.  

Get to know your obligations

As a party in a civil proceeding, you need to understand what is known as overarching obligations , which 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 1.

You can find cases from all courts and VCAT on the AustLII website

Know how to file documents

At various stages of the Court of Appeal process, you need to file documents. This means giving or sending them to the Court of Appeal registry , where they become part of the Court file.

The Court prefers you to file documents by emailing them to: pbnertvfgel@fhcpbheg.ivp.tbi.nhua.vog.civ.truocpus@yrtsigeraoc .

You can also deliver them in person to the Court of Appeal registry.

Know how to communicate with the Court

The Court prefers you to communicate by emailing pbnertvfgel@fhcpbheg.ivp.tbi.nhua.vog.civ.truocpus@yrtsigeraoc . If you cannot email, send a letter to the registry postal address.

Get to know legal terms 

Check the glossary for common legal words and terms. 

Know how to stop your appeal

You can stop your appeal at any time by filing a Notice of Discontinuance form and serving it on the other parties.

Be aware: If you do this, you will need to pay the other parties’ costs unless:

  • each party agrees you do not have to pay their costs, or
  • the Court of Appeal orders that you do not have to pay the other parties’ costs.

To start an appeal , or apply for leave to appeal , you file:

File all of these documents at the same time and pay the commencement fee (or apply for a fee waiver).

Not all cases get a hearing , so these documents could be your only chance to explain your arguments to the Court.

If you are applying for leave to appeal, these documents help the judge decide if your case has a real chance of success.

Form 64A: Application for leave to appeal / notice of appeal

This form contains a number of key sections, including the reasons why you believe the Court should grant you leave to appeal, if you are seeking leave to appeal.

Clearly state your grounds of appeal – the legal errors you believe the judge made when making their decision.

If you are appealing a VCAT decision, you need to state each law or legal principle the judge had to apply and you believe they got wrong. These are your questions of law.

The grounds of appeal and questions of law must be numbered consecutively (one after the other) in this form. 

You are only identifying which laws and legal principles you believe the judge got wrong, not explaining how you believe these laws or principles were wrongly applied and how that led to a wrong decision. You will give those details in your written case.

TIP: A question of law is usually framed as a question and asks what was legally required to be done or considered in your case. For example, if you are appealing a VCAT decision, was VCAT required to consider depreciation when deciding on a landlord’s claim for compensation? Is VCAT allowed to consider unsworn evidence ?

Written case

The written case must give the Court enough information to quickly understand what case you are making. It must:

  • contain your arguments for each ground of appeal and question of law in Form 64A (explain how you believe the judge wrongly applied the law or legal principles in your case, and how you believe that led the judge to make
  • a wrong decision)
  • be no more than 10 pages, unless the Registrar gives permission for it to be longer
  • follow the Registrar’s Note on the preparation of a written case.

List of authorities

This is a list of the cases, legislation and secondary sources you will use to support your case. It has three parts:

Part A – Cases and legislation you intend to read from if the case goes to hearing
Part B – Cases and legislation you intend to refer to, but do not intend to read from if the case goes to hearing
Part C – Other sources that support your case, such as textbooks and journal articles.

Draft application book index

An application book is a folder of the documents that will be considered by the Court of Appeal judges. The draft application book index is a list of all the documents you think should be in the application book. This includes the documents the judge took into consideration when making the decision you are appealing, which you think are relevant to your appeal.

Read and follow the Registrar’s Note on the preparation of leave application books and appeal books. 

TIP: The draft application book index and draft summary are called ‘draft’ for a reason. You need to get the respondent ’s input to these drafts and submit a final index and summary in Stage 2 of the appeal process.

Draft summary

The draft summary is a short account of the facts, history and issues of the case up until it was filed in the Court of Appeal. It must be no longer than 10 pages. Divide the draft summary into two parts:

Part A – summary of facts

Describe the background facts to the case, in the order they happened.

Part B – summary of proceedings and issues

In this part:

  • briefly describe what the case is about (for example, a claim about an injury or money owed)
  • name the parties and state whether they were a plaintiff , defendant , applicant or respondent in the court or VCAT proceeding that you are appealing
  • briefly describe the steps taken in the court or VCAT, in the order they happened
  • briefly state the major issues dealt with at the original hearing, and the outcome
  • briefly state the issues that you will raise in the Court of Appeal
  • note any relevant interlocutory orders – orders made after the case started and before it was finalised, such as a stay (temporary stop) of the decision being appealed.

TIP: When preparing your draft summary, read and follow section 12 of Practice Note SC CA 3 – Civil Appeals. The practice note includes sample summaries in Annexure A, to help show what level of detail is required.

Other applications to the Court of Appeal

For other applications, for example, an application to stay the decision you want to appeal, ask the other parties if they agree to what you are seeking, before you apply.

If they agree, you may not need to file the documents below. Email the Court to find out next steps.

If they do not agree, you must file:

  • Form 64B – Application other than for leave to appeal
  • affidavit – including any evidence that supports your application
  • written submissions (up to five pages) explaining in detail why you are making the application, referring to the evidence in your affidavit
  • list of authorities (relevant to this application)
  • draft application book index (relevant to this application).

These do not need to be filed at the same time as the documents you filed to start the appeal process. However, you should file them as soon as possible.

Stage 1 checklist  

File with the Court:

  • Form 64A
  • Written case
  • List of authorities
  • Draft application book index
  • Draft summary
  • Copy of the authenticated order
  • Copy of the written reasons

Pay the court fee or apply for a fee waiver.

Who to serve 

You serve your documents on the respondent , or on each respondent if there is more than one.

What documents to serve

After you file your documents with the Court of Appeal registry , staff will check them and advise if you need to make any changes. The registry will email you when the documents have been accepted and no other changes are needed.

After you have paid any court fees that apply, registry will send you all of the documents, usually by email. Some will now have the Court of Appeal seal on them. These are the documents you serve on the respondent. 

When to serve documents

When registry send you the documents, they will tell you how many days you have to serve them on the respondent. Usually you need to serve documents within five days of receiving them. Sometimes registry will tell you to serve the documents sooner, usually in urgent cases. 

How to serve documents

Documents can be served in the following ways:

If the party is represented by a lawyer, usually this means you can serve documents by email, mail or personally to the lawyer’s address.

If the party is not represented by a lawyer, usually this means you can serve the documents by email, mail or in person to the address for service used in the documents for the court or VCAT proceeding.

Confirming you have served documents

Within seven days of service, or sooner if the registry tells you to, you must tell the Court who you served, their address (including email address) and when you served the documents.

You give that information by filing:

  • Form 64C – List of persons served.

Stage 2 checklist 

  • Serve your documents on the respondent
  • Confirm you have served documents by filing Form 64C within seven days of service

Response to appeal / application for leave to appeal

The respondent has 28 days to respond to your documents. The Court can set a shorter or longer period and will advise you if this happens. 

If the respondent opposes your appeal or application for leave to appeal, they must file a:

  • written case
  • list of authorities
  • document that outlines their position on your draft application book index (including any changes they want made and why).

The respondent must also tell you, but not the Court, of any changes they propose to your draft summary. They usually do this in writing. Registry will advise the respondent if they also need to tell the Court.

If the respondent does not oppose your appeal / application for leave to appeal, they must file with the Court and serve on you:

  • Form 64E – Notice of intention not to oppose or contest.

If this happens, you do not automatically succeed. The Court of Appeal still needs to consider your appeal or application for leave to appeal.

Respondent ’s response to other applications

For any other applications you have served on a respondent (for example, an application to ‘stay’ the decision you want to appeal), the respondent has 14 days to respond. The Court can set a shorter or longer period.

If the respondent opposes your application, they must file:

  • Form 64D
  • an affidavit
  • written submissions – no more than five pages
  • list of authorities
  • a copy of your draft application book index, showing any proposed changes.

If the respondent does not oppose, they file:

  • Form 64E

If this happens, you will not automatically get the orders you seek. The Court of Appeal still needs to consider whether to make those orders.

Response to extension of time application

After you have served your documents on a respondent they have 14 days to respond to your extension of time application (the Court can set a shorter or longer period). If the respondent opposes your application, they must file:

  • Form 64D – Notice of opposition to application other than for leave to appeal
  • an affidavit
  • written submissions – no more than five pages.

If the respondent does not oppose, they must file:

  • Form 64E – Notice of intention not to oppose or contest.

If this happens, you do not automatically get an extension of time. The Court of Appeal still needs to consider whether to give you one.

Stage 3 checklist  

  • The respondent has 28 days to respond to your documents. They must tell you of any changes to your draft summary.

After the respondent ’s documents have been filed, the Court will tell the parties what needs to be done to get the case ready for the judges. This includes who prepares documents and when they need to file them with the Court. The main things that happen to get the case ready are:

Finalise the summary

The Court expects parties to work together to try to agree on the wording of the summary. If they cannot agree, the Court may decide that there will be no summary.

Prepare application book

The Court will consider all parties’ comments on the draft application book index, then decide what documents need to be included and how they need to be arranged. The book must:

  • be prepared in accordance with the index approved by the Court Registrar
  • follow the Registrar’s Note on the Preparation of Leave Application Books and Appeal Books.

When the application book is filed, the applicant must also:

  • file a setting down form (this will be provided by the registry )
  • pay a setting down fee.

Prepare a combined folder of authorities

The combined folder of authorities has copies of all the cases and legislation the parties will read from at the hearing . It combines Part A of each party ’s list of authorities .

Prepare a list of transcript references

This is a document which contains, for each ground of appeal , a list of relevant page and line numbers taken from the transcript of the hearing in the court or tribunal you are appealing from. They are the particular parts of the transcript that each party wants to bring to the attention of the judges. All parties must agree that the list of transcript references contains all of the references they want included. Once agreed, it must be signed by each party (or their lawyer), then filed with the Court.

NOTE: You may need to attend a directions hearing to discuss the things the Court needs you to prepare for the judges. The Court will advise you if a directions hearing is needed. Otherwise, the Court will give all parties their instructions by email.

Stage 4 checklist  

  • Follow the Court’s instructions for getting the case ready for the judges
  • Attend the directions hearing, if one is needed
  • Unless you have a fee waiver, pay the setting down fee when your hearing is listed and pay the daily hearing fee at least five days before your hearing
  • Prepare for your hearing and know what to expect by watching the Court’s videos 

Decisions are made with or without a hearing

The Court will decide if a hearing is needed to make a decision. Not all appeals will have a hearing.

If a hearing is listed (given a hearing date), the registry will notify you of the date, time and location.

The applicant and respondent are expected to attend the hearing. If you cannot attend for any substantial reason, such as a medical emergency, contact the Court of Appeal registry immediately.

If a hearing is not listed, this means the judge has enough information to make a decision without a hearing.

Finding out the decision

The Court will notify you of the decision in writing.

NOTE: The Court will decide whether applications should be heard separately or together, and in what order.

For example an:

  • extension of time application is usually considered on its own and before anything else
  • application to stay the decision you want to appeal is usually considered on its own and before your application for leave to appeal or appeal
  • application for leave to appeal is often considered at the same time as your appeal.

If your appeal is dismissed

If your appeal or application for leave to appeal is dismissed, your options vary depending on the situation. Below are the most common options.

Options if your appeal is dismissed
What was dismissed? Who made the decision? Where to appeal
Appeal Judge(s) High Court of Australia
Application for leave to appeal Judge(s) follow a hearing High Court of Australia
  Judge(s) without a hearing AND they said the application is totally without merit High Court of Australia
  Judge(s) without a hearing AND they did not say the application is totally without merit Apply within 10 days to the Court of Appeal for a hearing to set aside (cancel) or vary the decision to dismiss . If the Court does not grant you leave to appeal after the hearing, you can appeal to the High Court of Australia.
Extension of time application Judge(s) without a hearing AND they said the application is totally without merit.  High Court of Australia
Registrar   Apply to the Court of Appeal. If an extension is not granted, you can appeal to the High Court of Australia.


Stage 5 checklist 

  • Attend the hearing, if the Court decides a hearing is necessary
  • The Court notifies you of the decision in writing
  • Know your appeal options if your appeal is dismissed 

If you require further guidance contact the Self-Represented Litigant Coordinator 

Author
Supreme Court of Victoria
Publisher
Supreme Court of Victoria
Date of publication