When individuals are unsatisfied with the decision or judgment rendered to them by a court of law, they have the option to appeal or challenge the decision or judgment in a process provided for by the legal system. This refers to appellate law, the rules and guidelines that provide for the process of appealing or challenging a verdict or judgment.
Appellate law is usually practiced by appellate courts, a separate branch of courts that only handles cases of appeals. The litigant that was ruled against in a court of law has the right to ask a higher court of law to review the decision or judgment rendered in the lower court of law. However, it is the prerogative of the higher court of law to accept. Filing for an appeal does not necessarily equate to appealing the case. The appellate court may decide to take the case or not.
When the appellate court finds that the judgment or sentence is not commensurate or not in accordance with the law, the appellate court provides a new decision that overrules that of the lower court. An appellate court can also be referred to as a court of appeals or court of errors. These alternative names exist under the premise that an appellate court rectifies previous mistakes made by lower courts.
Appellate courts have their own hierarchy and system. The highest appellate court is the Supreme Court wherein cases that have reached this level can no longer appeal once a decision has been passed.