What happens in the hearing

The process

  1. Once the hearing starts, each party states their name and who they’re representing. If you’re representing yourself, tell the court that you’re appearing for yourself.
  2. The person who is appealing (the appellant/applicant) is called on to make their submission. Once this is completed, the appellant/applicant advises the court and sits down at the bar table.
  3. The other party (the respondent) then makes their submission and also advises the court when completed.
  4. The appellant/applicant then has an opportunity to make a further submission in reply, though this is usually limited to responding to what the other party has said.
  5. Once both sides have completed their submissions, the court may take a short break to deliberate before giving judgment or reserving their decision (meaning the court will deliver its judgment on another day).
  6. Once the appeal hearing is completed, you quietly leave the court room. If you’re in custody, you’re escorted out of the court room by a Corrective Services officer.

The judges generally ask questions during the hearing, and you should answer any questions as concisely and as accurately as possible.

If you don’t understand what is being asked, say that you don’t understand and ask the judge to explain the question.


Remember that the appeal is usually heard only on the evidence taken in the lower court. Therefore, your written outlines of argument filed in the registry before the hearing and your oral arguments must be based on the evidence given to the lower court.

The written outlines of argument are critical to the appeal process and form the foundation of the oral arguments at the hearing.

Although unusual, it is possible for the court to consider evidence not given in the lower court. You can raise further evidence only with the court’s permission.

Courtroom protocol

Standing up

When the judges enter and leave the courtroom, everyone must stand and remain standing until told to be seated. This does not apply to anyone unable to stand because of a disability.

All parties usually stand to speak while the court is in session. If you are physically disabled, please advise the court.

If there is an adjournment, everyone in the court room must stand up while the judges leave the courtroom.

Addressing judges

Address each judge formally as ‘your honour’. When addressing all the judges at once, ‘your honours’ is appropriate.

You shouldn’t speak while a judge is speaking.

Also, you should not speak to the judges outside the courtroom or send them correspondence about the hearing.

Using written material

You may place your documents and papers on the podium and on the bar table during the hearing. If you’re in custody, there is room for documents and papers in the dock.

If you want to hand up any documents to the judges, you should pass the material to the judge’s associate or the bailiff, who will hand them to the judges.

You should provide enough copies for each judge and your opponent(s).