Appeals and setting aside judgments

In some cases, you may have grounds to appeal a judgment that is not in your favour, or to apply to set aside a default judgment that was made because you did not do something required under the law.

Before you start any appeal or apply to set aside judgment, you should get legal advice to see:

  • if you have grounds (reasons) for an appeal or to have judgment set aside
  • if there is any chance of success, and
  • what the costs might be.

Our Get help with going to court webpage has information on where you may be able to get help.

This page has information on applying to have a judgment set aside, the basis for appeals and the time limits that apply.

Is there anything I can do if a default judgment is given against me?

If you have a default judgment entered against you, you can ask the court to reconsider the matter. This is called applying to have the judgment set aside. The court will set aside the judgment in certain circumstances. You must apply within 21 days after the judgment was given or such other time as the court allows.

You can also ask the court to reconsider the matter if your claim was dismissed because you didn't show up to a court hearing.

It is important to seek legal advice as soon as possible before you make any application to the court.

Can I get the judgment set aside after not going to a trial?

If the court made a judgment (or default judgment) against you because you did not turn up to the trial hearing, you may be able to apply to have the judgment set aside. This may be costly for you. Get legal advice before you make this application.

Can I apply to get a summary judgment set aside?

An order for summary judgment may be made by a court if a party can show that the other party has no reasonable prospect of succeeding. Judgment may be given in their favour without having to go through the full trial process.

If summary judgment was given against you in a general procedure claim, you can apply to set aside the summary judgment. You should get legal advice before doing this as the court has to decide if the claim, or defence, has a reasonable prospect of succeeding.

An application for an order to set aside summary judgment must be made within 21 days of the date of the judgment or such other time as is ordered by the court. If you are outside of time you should get legal advice. Even if your application to set aside judgment is successful, you may be ordered to pay the costs 'thrown away' by the other party.

You might also need to apply for an order stopping the other party from enforcing the summary judgment until the court has decided if it should be set aside.

I have had the trial of your case. I am not happy with the decision. Can I appeal?

If you are unhappy with a decision or judgment made by a magistrate, you may be able to appeal to the District Court of Western Australia.

If you are unhappy with a judgment made by a registrar in the Magistrates Court, you can ask for the matter to be reheard by a magistrate.

General procedure claims

The appeal can be about a magistrate’s decision on a question of law or fact.

Minor case claims

Generally, no appeal can be made against:

  • an order made by the court in the course of proceedings in a minor case, or
  • the judgment of the court in a minor case.

However, an appeal may be made against a decision of a magistrate in a minor case claim if:

  • the claim:
    • was not within the power of the court, or
    • was not actually 'a minor case'
  • there was a denial of natural justice in dealing with the case, or
  • the judgment was beyond the court’s power.

Generally, you can also appeal a judgment made by a registrar. A magistrate hears the appeal.

Do time limits apply?

Yes. An application to appeal a magistrate’s decision must be started within 21 days of the date of judgment unless the District Court gives permission to appeal after that time. Get legal advice if you are outside the time limit.

An application to appeal a judgment made by a registrar must be started within 21 days of the registrar’s decision. A magistrate may extend this time.

More information


Reviewed: 21 February 2024


The information displayed on this page is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have a legal problem, you should see a lawyer. Legal Aid Western Australia aims to provide information that is accurate, however does not accept responsibility for any errors or omissions in the information provided on this page or incorporated into it by reference.