Appellate Outcomes

Fundamentals of Procedural Law by Adam J. McKee

After an appeal has been heard, the appellate court will issue an outcome. This outcome is known as the court’s decision, and it typically comes in one of three forms: affirmation, reversal, or remand. Let’s delve into these terms to understand better what each means.

Affirmation: Upholding the Lower Court’s Decision

The Meaning of Affirmation

An affirmation is when the appellate court agrees with the decision of the lower court. In other words, the appellate court decides that the lower court made the right decision and did not commit a significant legal error. When an appellate court affirms a lower court’s decision, the original outcome stands, and the decision is upheld.

The Impact of Affirmation

Affirmation by an appellate court can have far-reaching implications. It sets a precedent that future courts must follow. It affirms that the legal reasoning and interpretation used in the lower court’s decision are correct. As such, the decision is likely to influence how similar cases are ruled in the future.

Reversal: Overturning the Lower Court’s Decision

The Meaning of Reversal

A reversal occurs when the appellate court decides that the lower court made a significant legal error in the case. As a result, the appellate court reverses, or overturns, the lower court’s decision. In this case, the appellate court usually provides a mandate or instructions on how the lower court should proceed with the case.

The Impact of Reversal

Reversal by an appellate court can also have significant implications. It signals that the lower court’s interpretation of the law was incorrect. A reversal can modify the law’s interpretation, affecting future cases with similar issues.

Remand: Sending the Case Back to the Lower Court

The Meaning of Remand

A remand happens when the appellate court sends the case back to the lower court for further proceedings. This is typically done when the appellate court believes the lower court needs to reconsider certain aspects of the case.

The Impact of Remand

When a case is remanded, the lower court will review the case again, taking into account the appellate court’s feedback. This can lead to a different outcome for the case, depending on the issues to be reconsidered.


Appellate outcomes are crucial in understanding case law. These outcomes—affirmation, reversal, or remand—represent the appellate court’s decision after reviewing an appeal. An affirmation upholds the lower court’s decision, setting a precedent for future similar cases.

A reversal overturns the lower court’s decision and can change the interpretation of the law. Lastly, a remand sends the case back to the lower court for further proceedings, possibly resulting in a different outcome. These outcomes are significant as they shape case law and influence future legal decisions.

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Modification History

File Created:  08/07/2018

Last Modified:  07/10/2023

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This work is licensed under an Open Educational Resource-Quality Master Source (OER-QMS) License.

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