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.
Since 1 January 2007, the Appeals Permission Board has also had the responsibility to consider complaints against the Department of Civil Affairs’ rejections of applications for free legal aid.
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 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.
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 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 Chairman can consider communications on issues not covered by the Appeals Permission Board's jurisdiction, just as and the Board's two departments have authorised the Chairman and the Department Chairman to decide certain types of cases, including requests for reopening that are without basis.
The Appeals Permission Board’s secretariat is led by the head of secretariat and provides legal and administrative support to both of the Board’s departments. In addition to the head of the secretariat The Secretariat comprises of 27 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 2017 the Appeals Permission Board's department for permissions to appeal received 2.356 cases, while the department for free legal aid received 782 cases.