Interlocutory Appeals: An Overview

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What is Interlocutory Appeal?

An interlocutory appeal (also known as an interim appeal) arises when a trial court’s decision is appealed while other aspects of the case are still ongoing. Here are the key points:

Purpose and Timing:

  • Purpose: To address specific issues promptly, even before the trial reaches its final resolution.
  • When: Interlocutory appeals occur during the course of litigation, typically after a non-final order is issued.

Scope and Jurisdiction:

  • Variability: Rules governing interlocutory appeals vary by jurisdiction.
  • Non-Final Orders: These appeals challenge rulings made by the trial court before the entire case concludes.
interlocutory appeals
  1. Examples of Interlocutory Appeals:
    • Imagine a lawsuit involving multiple claims (e.g., breach of contract, fraud, interference with contractual advantage) and several defendants. Until all claims are resolved for all parties, any appeal by any party will be considered interlocutory.
    • American courts generally discourage such appeals, preferring to wait until all claims are resolved before allowing challenges to specific decisions made by the judge during the case.
  2. Certification by Trial Judges:
    • In exceptional cases, the trial judge can “certify” a concluded portion of the case for immediate interlocutory appeal.
    • For instance, if one defendant’s claims and issues have been resolved, but other parties continue litigating, the judge may allow an appeal related to the concluded portion.
  3. Federal Courts and the Collateral Order Doctrine:
    • The Supreme Court of the United States established the collateral order doctrine for federal courts.
    • To permit an interlocutory appeal, three criteria must be met:
      • The appealed matter must be conclusive on the issue presented.
      • It must be collateral to the merits of the case.
      • Immediate appeal is necessary because it would be effectively unreviewable later.
    • The doctrine ensures that certain non-final orders can be challenged promptly.

In summary, interlocutory appeals serve as a balance between timely resolution and the need for finality in legal proceedings. Seek legal advice if you encounter situations where an interlocutory appeal may be relevant

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