When a judgment is entered for you or against you at a Magisterial District Court, both parties have the right to an appeal “de novo.” This means “starting from the beginning” or “heard anew.” The party who wants to appeal the decision of the lower court must simply file a form at the Prothonotary’s office and serve notice upon the MDJ court and the other party. For a general civil case, you have 30 days to file the appeal. If it is a Landlord Tenant case, you only have 10 days if possession is an issue. However, that is where the simple portion of the appeal process ends.
The Plaintiff in the original action will have 20 days to file a formal complaint under the PA Rules of Civil Procedure. The original Defendant will then have 20 days to respond, and the lawsuit will now be handled as if it had begun at the Court of Common Pleas with no regard for what took place at the Magisterial District Court, which is not a court of record. This is why the appeal is called de novo, or “starting from the beginning.” There are many legal issues to consider, time frames to adhere to, discovery, and more. All of this makes it far more difficult to represent yourself throughout an appeal process than it is to present your own case before a Magisterial District Judge.
You will no doubt have many questions.
If you have received a judgment from a Magisterial District Court and the other party has filed an appeal against you, or you wish to consider filing an appeal, call Frederick Law Offices for a free consultation to explain the process, answer your questions, and evaluate your case.