The Appeals Process as a Means of Error Correction
The appeals process - whereby a litigant disappointed with the decision of a first-order tribunal can seek reconsideration before a higher tribunal - is a widely observed feature of adjudication. What rationale can be offered for incorporation of an appeals process in a system of adjudication? The justification analyzed here concerns error correction: the appeals process allows society to harness information that litigants have about erroneous decisions and thereby to reduce the incidence of mistake at low cost (because the appeals tribunal convenes only in a subset of cases). This argument explains why the appeals process may be superior to the alternative of enhancing the quality of the trial process. The argument also explains why disappointed litigants are given the right to instigate appeals (instead of the higher tribunal having the right to reconsider trial outcomes). The article also discusses other justifications for the appeals process, including lawmaking. Copyright 1995 by the University of Chicago.
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