If one party thinks that their case was decided wrongly, they can appeal. In an appeal, a more senior judge examines the reasoning of the first judge and decides if they reached a reasonable decision. Generally speaking, the appeal court does not overturn a decision simply because they thought they might have reached different one, but will only act if the first decision is “plainly wrong”.
The first stage of the appeal process is getting permission. To do this, the appeal needs to be issued soon after the decision you want to appeal is made. The court will consider (either on paper or with a hearing) whether your grounds for appeal are good enough to merit a full appeal hearing.
If permission is given, an appeal will be heard. At this hearing, both sides will make submissions as to whether the initial judge made a wrong decision or not. If the appeal court agrees the decision was wrong, they might make a new order themselves, or else remit it back to the original court for a new decision.
Appeals can also be necessary where a new point of law arises. If a new legal point is made, which has not been decided by any court, then an appeal may be necessary so that more senior judges can rule decisively on that issue.
Appeal court versus Supreme court
The Supreme Court is the highest level of court in the UK. The judges of the Supreme Court hear cases of the greatest legal complexity and make decisions which bind all other judges.
Generally, a case will only be heard by the Supreme Court if it raises a point of legal importance which has not been dealt with comprehensively before. As well, cases normally only go to the Supreme Court if it is a second appeal – i.e. you are appealing against decision already made on appeal.
If you appeal, the court where it is heard will be determined by the level of judge who decides your case initially. For decisions by district judges in local courts, it will be heard by a Circuit Judge in the same court. For judges above this, the appeal will be heard in the Court of Appeal in London.