Reversal Definition and Legal Meaning

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

What is Reversal?

(n) Reversal is the process by which an appellant court negate the order issued by a trial court or lower court when it is of the opinion that the ruling of the lower court was not correct and fair. The reversal can be effected by directing the lower court to dismiss the original decision and do a retrial.

History and Meaning of Reversal

Reversal is a legal term that refers to the overturning of a lower court's decision by a higher court. The higher court, also known as the appellate court or the court of appeals, overturns the lower court's ruling when it finds that the decision was incorrect or unfair. The process of reversal is an essential part of the legal system, as it ensures that the verdicts of lower courts are subjected to review and scrutiny.

The origin of the term is unclear, but it has been used in the legal context since the 14th century. The process of reversal is often viewed as a means of correcting injustices that may have occurred during the trial court's proceedings.

Examples of Reversal

  1. A defendant is found guilty of a crime in a lower court and appeals the decision. The appellate court reviews the evidence and testimony and determines that the defendant's rights were violated during the trial. The court then reverses the conviction and orders a new trial.

  2. A plaintiff files a lawsuit against a company in a lower court, seeking damages for a breach of contract. The lower court rules in favor of the plaintiff, but on appeal, the higher court finds that the plaintiff failed to prove all elements of the breach of contract claim. The higher court reverses the lower court's decision and dismisses the case.

  3. A lower court issues a judgment against a debtor in a debt collection case. The debtor appeals the decision, arguing that the court improperly calculated the amount owed. The appellate court agrees with the debtor and reverses the lower court's judgment.

Legal Terms Similar to Reversal

  1. Remand: Refers to sending a case back to the lower court for further action, such as a retrial, after an appeal.

  2. Affirm: Refers to upholding the lower court's decision on appeal.

  3. Overturn: A term used interchangeably with reversal to describe the act of nullifying or setting aside a lower court's decision on appeal.