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Practice Areas

Business Litigation – Appeals

Business Litigation – Appeals

An appeal is an official request for a higher court to review a trial court decision based on alleged error of procedure, or alleged error in interpretation or application of the law. In civil cases, including business litigation, this may occur immediately following a decision on a motion or at the end of a trial. The ability to appeal and the timing of an appeal depends on the court rules and laws of the relevant jurisdiction. It also depends on whether the case was litigated or resolved via alternative dispute resolution (like arbitration or mediation). In the realm of business litigation, the appeals court scrutinizes the lower court decision to determine whether to uphold, reverse or modify it. If you have questions about business litigation, contact W.R. Stewart & Associates, S.C. in Madison, WI, today to schedule a consultation with an attorney.


The procedure for obtaining appellate review varies from state to state and the federal system has its own specific requirements as well. Many state jurisdictions require that an appeal can only result from a final judgment. This means that an appellate court usually cannot hear appeals that address individual parts of a case before the final decision is made. In some state courts, certain issues may be appealed before the trial concludes, but these states are in the minority. The finality of a judgment means that all questions of law and fact have been answered. In most jurisdictions, the final judgment of the trial court can only be appealed to a higher court once.

Appellate Court System

Another state-specific issue is the number and type of appellate courts. The numbers and levels of appellate courts often depend on the size of the population and on how much business is transacted in that particular jurisdiction. Rules of appellate procedure are varied. Some states have only two levels of courts: the trial court and the appellate court, usually called the supreme court. Many other states have three levels of courts: trial courts, intermediate appellate courts and highest/supreme court. This is called an intermediate appellate court system. Some larger states even have five or six levels and often will have individualized courts of appeal for specific legal issues like tax and workers’ compensation.

Federal Courts

The federal court system has its own appeals process. At the federal level, most federal trials begin in a district court. The next level is the circuit courts of appeal, which deal with questions of law and normally only review the final decisions of the district courts. The United State Courts of Appeal are divided into circuits (regions) throughout the United States. The final level of review is the United States Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has discretion to decide which cases it will review. There are also some specialized federal courts in which businesses might find themselves, including the U.S. Bankruptcy Court and the U.S. Tax Court.

Administrative Agencies

Often a business will not go to a traditional court to have an issue heard, instead either choosing to or being required to resolve its issue before an administrative agency, such as the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Most agencies’ final decisions are reviewable by a court.

Speak to a Business Litigation Lawyer

It is important for business owners to understand the process under which trial court decisions are reviewed. If you are faced with litigation involving business transactions or any aspect of your business, a lawyer can provide you with guidance regarding your specific situation. Contact W.R. Stewart & Associates, S.C. in Madison, WI, today to schedule a consultation with a business litigation attorney.

DISCLAIMER: This site and any information contained herein are intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.

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