Difference Between Appeal and Revision

Appeal vs Revision

Identifying the difference between Appeal and Revision is somewhat of a complex task for many of us. Indeed, they are terms that are not frequently heard in ordinary parlance. Legally, however, they represent two very important types of applications available to a party aggrieved by a previous court order. They also constitute the most important and primary types of jurisdiction vested in appellate courts. Perhaps the term Appeal sounds less unfamiliar than Revision. What is Revision? Is it the same as Appeal? A careful understanding of the definitions of both terms will help to answer these questions.

What is an Appeal?

An Appeal is traditionally defined in law as the resort by an unsuccessful party in a lawsuit to a superior court vested with the jurisdiction to review a final decision of a lower court. Other sources have defined this power of review as testing the soundness of the decision of the lower court. A person typically files an Appeal with the goal of seeking a reversal of the lower court decision. However, the appellate court, upon reviewing the said decision may either agree with the lower court decision and affirm it, reverse the decision, or reverse the decision in part and affirm the rest of it. Generally, a person files an Appeal when he/she believes that the lower court made an erroneous order either based on the law or the facts. The function of the appellate court, therefore, is to review the said decision by focusing on the legality of and reasonableness of the decision. An Appeal is also a statutory right conferred on a party. The party filing an Appeal is known as the Appellant while the person against whom the Appeal is filed is known as the Respondent or Appellee. For an Appeal to be successful, the Appellant must file a notice of Appeal together with the necessary supporting documents within the time limit prescribed by statute.

Difference Between Appeal and Revision

An appellate court is where an appeal is examined.

What is a Revision?

The term Revision is perhaps not as popular as Appeal given that it is not present in every jurisdiction. It is defined as the re-examination of legal actions that involve the illegal assumption, non-exercise, or irregular exercise of jurisdiction by a lower court. This means that a superior court will examine the decision of a lower court to determine if the latter exercised a jurisdiction it did not have, or failed to exercise a jurisdiction it did have, or acted in the illegal exercise of its jurisdiction. Revision is not a statutory right conferred on an aggrieved party in a legal action. Instead, the person applying for Revision generally applies to the discretion of the court. Thus, the power of Revision lies at the discretion of the court. This means that a court has the choice to either examine or not examine a lower court decision. Revisionary jurisdiction is a very important type of jurisdiction vested in superior courts or appellate courts in addition to appellate jurisdiction. In an application for Revision, the superior court will only look at the legality and the procedural accuracy or correctness of the lower court decision. The purpose of Revision is to ensure the proper administration of justice and the correction of all errors to avoid a miscarriage of justice. If the appellate court is satisfied that the lower court followed the correct procedure and the decision is sound in law, then it will not reverse or change the decision. This will be the case even if the terms of the decision may be considered unreasonable. For this reason, the objective of a Revision application is not to delve into the merits of the original case, but rather to examine if the decision made was legal and procedurally sound.

Appeal vs Revision

Revision gives the power to a superior court to check the legality of a lower court

What is the difference between Appeal and Revision?

• Appeal is a statutory right available to a party in a legal action as opposed to Revision that is a discretionary power of the higher court.

• An Appeal may entail a review of questions of law and/or fact while Revision applications only examine questions of legality, jurisdiction and/or procedural impropriety.

• Generally, an Appeal must be filed within a certain time limit prescribed by statute, which commences following the final decision of a lower court. In the case of Revision, there is no such time limit although applicants must file within a reasonable amount of time.


Images Courtesy:

  1. 3rd Appellate Court Building in Ottawa, Illinois, USA by IvoShandor (CC BY-SA 3.0)
  2. Middlesex Superior Court by  Emw (CC BY-SA 3.0)