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The Supreme Court can decide not to hear your case

Generally speaking, the appeals process goes like this: A judge rules on your case, and you then appeal to the court because you do not agree with the judgement. The appeals court then rules, and you either agree with it or you decide to appeal again, this time to the Supreme Court of Canada. What the Supreme Court says stands, so this body makes the final ruling and the case ends. There are also instances where the Supreme Court may order that there should be a brand new hearing or a new trial entirely, as well.

However, one key thing to note is that not all of this process is guaranteed. The Supreme Court gets to pick and choose the cases that it takes on. It has no obligation to examine your case. Should the court review your request and deny your appeal, you are still stuck with the lower court's ruling.

There are rare exceptions for some criminal cases, but this is true for civil appeals.

So, what cases is the court likely to take on? Generally, it is looking for cases that are important nationwide. These are big cases that must be resolved properly and that may impact a lot of people. It also looks for cases regarding parts of the law that are unsettled -- the gray areas. By making rulings in these areas, it can help to define the law and set precedents that will be used in future cases at lower levels.

No matter what part of the appeals process you're in, always be sure that you know what rights you have and the legal steps that have been established.

Source: Department of Justice, "The Appeal Process in Canada," accessed Aug. 10, 2016

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