Supreme Court of New South Wales

Court of Appeal

The final court of appeal in New South Wales

About the Court of Appeal

The Court of Appeal is the final court of appeal in New South Wales. The Court of Appeal hears applications for leave to appeal and appeals from single judges of the Supreme Court and from other NSW courts and tribunals. It has both appellate and supervisory jurisdiction in respect of all other courts in the State system.

The most regularly cited sources
The supervisory jurisdiction is an essentially foundation of the rule of law
Commencing an appeal, making submissions and more
Practitioner-related information about the Court of Appeal

Australia's first intermediate appellate court

The Court of Appeal was established in 1966 as Australia’s first intermediate appellate Court. It hears appeals in civil matters against the decisions of the judicial officers of the Supreme Court, other courts, commissions, and tribunals within the State. Its judgments are routinely cited around the nation and by foreign courts.

The Court of Appeal comprises the Chief Justice, the President of the Court of Appeal and nine judges of appeal. In addition, the Chief Judge of each trial division is a member of the Court. Acting judges of appeal also sit in the Court of Appeal when required, and on occasion, a judge of the Supreme Court's trial divisions may sit as an additional judge of appeal for the duration of a specific case.

The Court of Appeal sits in panels, normally constituted by three judges of appeal. If the Judges do not agree, the majority view prevails.

Occasionally, a five-judge bench will convene if there is a perceived conflict between two earlier decisions of the Court, or where a party seeks to challenge a legal principle set in an earlier decision of the Court of Appeal.

Two judges of appeal can determine applications if they relate solely to the amount of compensation for personal injury or death or is a challenge to an interlocutory judgement of a lower court. Applications for leave to appeal may also be dealt with by two judges, although a single judge of the Court of Appeal can determine if the issue of leave should be considered during the substantive appeal hearing, not separately. A judge of appeal sitting alone will also determine many interlocutory applications in an appeal, and in some instances, a single judge of appeal will deliver the Court's judgment.

Appeals against decisions of the Court of Appeal are made to the High Court of Australia in matters of public or general importance. However, before the appeal can progress, the applicant must first obtain the High Court's leave to proceed.

Information alert
Information for legal practitioners

The Practice & Procedure section of the website provides guidance on how the Court expects legal practitioners will conduct an appeal.

Summaries of recent decisions of intermediate appellate courts
Decisions on appeal from the Court of Appeal to the High Court of Australia
Matters before the Court of Appeal for which judgment is reserved
Summaries of cases before the Court of Appeal

Statistics (as at December 2023)*

2019 2020 2021 2022 2023 
Filings (net new cases) 366 346 341 354 303
Filings of appeals / applications for relief 231 214 223 236 202
Filings of applications for leave to appeal** 135 132 118 118 101
Disposals (final disposals) 339 381 346 311 363
Disposals of appeals / applications for relief 213 232 231 207 247
Disposals of applications for leave to appeal 126 149 115 104 116
Pending cases at 31 December 205 170 165 208 148
     Appeals / applications for relief 142 124 124 157 114
     Applications for leave to appeal 63 46 41 51 34

* These statistics exclude notices of intention to appeal, as notices do not commence a substantive appeal or application. Statistics cover Court of Appeal cases only, which are not comparable with ‘civil appeal’ statistics reported within the Productivity Commission’s Report on Government Services (which count all civil cases of an appellate nature, including appeals and reviews dealt with in the Common Law and Equity Divisions).

**  This includes leave applications and applications where parties have elected to have a concurrent hearing of both the leave application and the appeal (if leave is granted).

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