The Appeals Permission Board was established on 1 January 1996 with the purpose of considering petitions for second and third tier permissions to appeal in civil and criminal cases. In addition, from 1 April 2019 the Appeals Permission Board has the responsibility to consider permissions to appeal the family courts' decisions to High Court.
Since 1 January 2007, the Appeals Permission Board has also had the responsibility to consider complaints regarding the Department of Civil Affairs’ rejections of applications for free legal aid. Moreover, the Appeals Permission Board considers complaints regarding the Department of Civil Affairs’ rejections of free legal aid for cases in international complaints boards.
In brief, a permission to appeal entails that a case that would not otherwise be subject to appeal can be brought before a higher court. Permission to appeal requires that the case raises issues of principle or that in some cases special circumstances call for permission.
Free legal aid fundamentally entails the person in question being appointed a lawyer to handle the case and that the treasury pays the costs, including court fees, lawyer fees and any costs to be paid to the counterparty. Free legal aid is particularly reserved for people, who on the one hand do not have the financial means to pay the costs of the case, but on the other hand have reasonable grounds to litigate, especially because there is a prospect of winning the case.
In certain cases, legal aid is granted to enable a person to lodge and conduct a complaint against Denmark to an international complaints board (for example The European Court of Human Rights). The rules can be found in the Act on Legal Aid for lodging and conducting complaints for international complaints boards under pursuance of human rights conventions (for example The European Convention on Human Rights). Free legal aid is granted, if there is reasonable cause to conduct the complaint and the international complaints body has requested the legal comments of the Danish government to the complaint.
The Appeals Permission Board’s cases are processed in three different departments, partly in a department for permissions to appeal, partly in a department for permissions to appeal the family courts' decisions, and partly in a department for free legal aid. All cases are prepared in a secretariat that is common for all three departments.
The Appeals Permission Board's department for permissions to appeal consists of a Supreme Court Judge (Chairman), one High Court Judge, one District Court Judge, a lawyer and a member representing the jurisprudence. The Appeals Permission Board's department for permissions to appeal the family courts' decisions consists of a High Court Judge (Department Chairman), one District Court Judge and a lawyer. The department for free legal aid consists of a High Court Judge (Department Chairman), one District Court Judge and a lawyer.
Decisions at Board meetings are taken by simple majority. In general, there are weekly meetings in every department and cases are sent out approx. one week before the meeting. Urgent cases can be sent at shorter notice. Board meetings are not public and there is no opportunity to appear before the Board.
The Chairman and the Department Chairmen can consider communications on issues not covered by the Appeals Permission Board's jurisdiction, just as the Board's departments have authorised the Chairman and the Department Chairmen to decide certain types of cases, including requests for reopening cases, if the requests are without basis.
The Appeals Permission Board’s secretariat is led by the head of secretariat and provides legal and administrative support to the Board’s departments. The secretariat comprises of approx. 30 employees.
In all cases, a memorandum is prepared containing an account of the case’s facts, a legal review and a recommendation as to how the Board should decide on the case.
On grounds of principle the Board's decisions are justified only with a reference to the content of the relevant provisions of the Administration of Justice Act.
In 2019 the Appeals Permission Board's department for permissions to appeal received 2.604 cases, the department for permissions to appeal the family courts’ decisions received 172 cases, while the department for free legal aid received 892 cases.