A High Court judge has warned against the merits of appealing ‘findings of fact’ rulings.
In a recently published case, Lord Justice Kitchin said such appeals were unlikely to reverse the findings of the initial judges:
“[A]ppellate courts have been repeatedly warned by recent cases at the highest level not to interfere with findings of fact by trial judges unless compelled to do so”.
“This applies not only to findings of primary fact but also to the evaluation of those facts and to inferences to be drawn from them. The reasons for this approach include the expertise of trial judges in determining what facts are relevant to the issues to be decided and what those facts are if they are disputed”.
“[I]n making his decision the trial judge will have regard to the whole of the evidence presented to him whereas an appellate court can only consider aspects of that evidence … and duplication of the trial judge’s role on appeal is a disproportionate use of the limited resources of an appellate court and will seldom lead to a different outcome in a individual case.”
Lord Justice Kitchin was ruling on Goyal v Goyal, which involved an application for permission to appeal against a finding of fact by HH Judge Everall.
In Judge Everall’s original ruling, the husband’s marriage was found to be valid despite the man’s claim that his wife married someone else three days before his wedding.
The couple in question set a short wedding three days before the main one in order for them to get a marriage license. This would in turn allow them to acquire a visa for travel from their home in India.
The husband claimed he could not get to the earlier, short wedding in time and that another man took his place, making his marriage invalid.
Judge Everall found the husband’s evidence “unconvincing and implausible”.
Lord Justice Kitchin agreed with the original decision and dismissed the application, satisfied the appeal would not be successful.