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The Court of Criminal Appeal is the State's highest court for criminal matters. A person who has been convicted or who pleaded guilty and been sentenced by a Supreme Court or District Court judge, may appeal to the Court of Criminal Appeal. Appeals may also be brought from decisions of the Land and Environment Court in its criminal jurisdiction.


The current President of the New South Wales Court of Appeal is the Honourable Mr Justice Andrew Bell who replaced Acting President Simpson on 28 February 2019.

The judges hearing any particular case are selected from the Chief Justice, the President of the Court of Appeal, the judges of appeal, the Chief Judge and other nominated judges of the Common Law Division. 

Appeals are generally heard by three judges, although five judges may sit when significant legal issues need to be considered. If the judges do not agree, the majority view prevails. 

When sentence appeals do not involve a dispute on any issue of legal principle, only two judges need to sit.

There are a number of grounds for appeal, including a challenge to a conviction involving a question of law. The Court of Criminal Appeal may also grant leave to appeal in matters involving questions of fact or mixed questions of fact and law. It may also grant leave to appeal in cases where the severity or adequacy of the sentence is challenged. 

The Court hears hundreds of appeals each year with trends showing an increase in complexity and time each appeal is taking. 

To appeal to the High Court from the Court of Criminal Appeal, an applicant must first obtain special permission from the High Court.

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