De Novo Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of De Novo, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is De Novo?

latin for “from the very beginning”. The phrase is used for trials (as in de novo trial) that are done afresh. Usually done on appeals from lower courts claim judgements.

History and Meaning of De Novo

De Novo is a Latin term that denotes "starting anew" or "afresh". In legal proceedings, De Novo refers to a new hearing or trial conducted by an appellate court, where the entire case is reheard as if there had been no prior hearing or trial. It is usually granted when a litigant appeals a decision made by the lower court, and the appellate court determines that the case requires a fresh analysis of evidence, testimony, or application of law.

Examples of De Novo

  1. A defendant appeals a criminal conviction to an appellate court, which orders a De Novo hearing, enabling the defendant to present new evidence and witnesses not previously available at trial.

  2. A plaintiff appeals a claim for Social Security benefits to an administrative law judge, who conducts a De Novo hearing and considers all available medical, vocational, and other evidence to reach a fair and impartial decision.

  3. A tenant appeals an eviction ruling to a higher court, which orders a De Novo hearing, providing for a new review of the evidence and testimony, and allowing the tenant to defend against the allegations.

Legal Terms Similar to De Novo

  1. De novo review: A type of appellate review that involves reviewing an issue anew, as if the trial court had not decided it before.

  2. Trial de novo: A new trial that supersedes a prior trial in which the case was not resolved or resulted in a mistrial.

  3. De novo appeal: An appeal that allows the reviewing court to consider the evidence and legal claims anew, without being bound by the decisions or reasoning of the lower court.