The Divisional Court operates as an extension of the Superior Court of Justice of Ontario. While it is an appeals court, a variety of cases find their way to the divisional process.
The Divisional Court, according to the Superior Court of Justice, is one of the busiest appellate courts in the country. As a defendant, it is important to understand how Divisional Court works, how a case qualifies for appeal, and how to select a Divisional Court attorney.
By being prepared, you are better able to assist your lawyer in representing your case effectively; and more than likely, improve the outcome of your case.
What Is Divisional Court?
The Divisional Court hears legal appeals from courts within the province, and they are the first judicial review forum for government action within Ontario. While uncommon, the Divisional Court may also hear some family and civil appeals.
According to the Attorney General, there are seven primary types of cases heard by the Divisional Court.
Seven Divisional Court Case Appeal Types:
- Appeals from Final Orders of Judges
- Appeals from Interlocutory Orders
- Appeals from Masters’ Orders
- Combined Appeals
- Appeals from a Final Order of the Small Claims Court
- Statutory Appeals
- Appeals from Family Court
Divisional Court Appeals vs. Criminal Court Cases
In a regular criminal case, the trial must first be heard in front of the criminal court (whether by judge or jury).
The Divisional Court does not handle first-time hearings. Instead, they are strictly for appeals. So, if you have been convicted, you may be able to appeal your case with the Divisional Courts. However, you cannot apply for a hearing unless you have a ruling on your current case or you have leave to appeal.
Instead of a single judge or jury, a Divisional Court case is heard by a panel of three judges. In emergency situations, the case may be heard by one judge.
Criteria for Divisional Court Appeals
Appeals are typically filed in the region where the original case took place. There are time limits for how long you have to file your appeal, and there may be circumstances where your deadline can be extended.
For most cases, however, the appeal must be received within 30 days after the order that is being appealed is made.
You must pay a fee to file the Notice of Appeal with the courts. There is a fee waiver available, but this is only for those who cannot afford their own lawyer or court costs.
Not all cases have an automatic right of appeal to the Divisional Court, according to the Ministry of the Attorney General. Instead, a person may need a leave (receive permission), before they can file for an appeal.
Leave to appeal is typically required by the legislation that governs the type of case being heard, or an individual needs to appeal an interlocutory order.
How to Find a Qualified Divisional Court Lawyer
Because of the complexities of Divisional Courts, it is in your best interest to always hire divisional court lawyers to handle your appeal.
The appeals process varies depending on what legislation applies to your case and what court initially served the order.
A Divisional Court attorney can help you understand what time limitations and regulations apply to your case.
If you are in need of Divisional Court assistance, Levitt Di Lella Duggan & Chaplick LLP can help. Our Divisional Court lawyers understand the court of appeals process and can help with filing the necessary leave documents, Notice of Appeal, and represent the case in front of the tribunal’s panel. Schedule a consultation now by calling on 416-512-7440 or visiting our website to complete an online contact form.