BC Social Studies Lesson Plans

The Appeals Process

Law 12


The Appeals Process

Big Idea

Laws are interpreted and these interpretations may evolve over time as a society's values and worldviews change.

Essential Question

How are appeals determined and how can appeals lead to changes in precedent?

Learning Standards Content

Students are expected to know the following:

  • Structures and powers of the federal and provincial courts and administrative tribunals

Curricular Competencies

Students are expected to be able to do the following:

  • Assess the justification for differing legal perspectives after investigating points of contention, reliability of sources, and adequacy of evidence (evidence)


Core Competencies

I can communicate and collaborate with my peers to review the process of appeals in Supreme Court of Canada cases.

I can critically analyze Supreme Court decisions and identify their implications for the Canadian public.

I can take responsibility for my role in researching and sharing information to my group.

First People's Principles of Learning

Learning involves patience and time.
  • Pose the question: If a person believes that the judge came to a wrong decision in a case what can they do?
  • Write the word “appeal on the board. Activate prior knowledge by asking students to define the word. Then, ask students if they know what the appeals process is or how the word “appeal” relates to law.
  • Show The British Columbia Court of Appeal video (7:45)
  • Have students respond to the following questions:
    • Who can appeal their case and why?
      • In criminal cases
      • In civil cases
    • What are some differences between appeal court and trial court?  
      • No witnesses
      • Not “triers of fact”

Part 1: Courts of Appeal

  • Introduce the essential question: “How are appeals determined and how can appeals lead to changes in precedent?”
  • Handout “The Appeal Process: Cloze Notes”. Use “The Appeal Process: Lecture Notes” to explain the process of appeal and provide students with definitions of key terms.
  • After students have completed their notes, explain that they are going to look at Supreme Court cases to see examples of how the appeals process works.
  • Provide students access to the Supreme Court of Canada’s Cases in Brief. These are reader-friendly summaries of recent cases.
  • Handout the chart “Supreme Court of Canada Cases”. Model the process of filling out the worksheet with the class. You can use “Civil Example - Canada Post Corp. v. Canadian Union” and “Criminal Example - R. v. Chung”.


Part 2: Case Study Jigsaw

  • Divide students into three groups. Assign each group one of the past three years. Each group will choose one civil and one criminal case from their assigned year.
  • Provide each student with two more copies of the chart “Supreme Court of Canada Cases” and have them review their selected civil and criminal cases.
  • Afterwards, have students from each of the three groups join together to form triads. Each student will represent one of the years, so each student will have different cases to share. Students will take turns presenting their two case reviews to the others in their triad.
  • After each of the three students has shared, they should discuss the following questions in their triad:
    • Why did most of these cases end up in the Supreme Court? (question of law or question of fact?)
    • Was it common for the Supreme Court to come to a different decision than lower courts? Why or why not?
    • Did these cases set a future precedent by clarifying an issue of law? Or was the decision specific to this particular case?
    • Do you agree or disagree with any of these decisions? Why? If you disagree, why do you think the Court came to their conclusion?
  • Provide students with “Assignment: Supreme Court Case Analysis”.
  • In this formal written analysis, students will expand on the previous case studies to perform a full in-depth analysis of a Supreme Court of Canada case, with an overview of:
    • Facts of the Case
    • Issue (What questions of law was the court being asked to answer?)
    • Appeals Process (What happened at previous levels of court?)
    • Supreme Court Decision
    • Significance of the Case and Decision
  • Assess using “Rubric: Supreme Court Case Analysis”.
  • Have students investigate the process of appeal in an inquisitorial legal system and create a T-chart comparing appeals in the two systems.

“British Columbia Court of Appeal.” YouTube, Justice Education Society of BC, 2 June 2009, www.youtube.com/watch?v=z0YgLOPrPJ8.

“Cases in Brief.” Supreme Court of Canada, Supreme Court of Canada, 18 Dec. 2020, www.scc-csc.ca/case-dossier/cb/index-eng.aspx.

“Courts of BC - Provincial Court.” YouTube, Justice Education Society of BC, 21 June 2012, www.youtube.com/watch?v=JI3Ax30Rols.

“Courts of BC - Supreme Court.” YouTube, Justice Education of Society of BC, 21 June 2012, www.youtube.com/watch?v=K_ATJJSGuhk.

Government of Canada, 16 Oct. 2017, www.justice.gc.ca/eng/csj-sjc/just/07.html.

Murphy, Terry, et. al. All About Law: Exploring the Canadian Legal System, 6th ed., Nelson Canada, 2009.

“The Judicial Structure.” Department of Justice, “The Appeal Process in Canada.” Department of Justice, Government of Canada, 10 Mar. 2017, www.justice.gc.ca/eng/csj-sjc/just/appeal-appel.html.

Download Complete Lesson Plan

.pdf .docx

Rate this Curriculum

Last Reviewed

March 01, 2023

Produced by JES

curriculum developers