In legal English, the term „appeal” holds significant importance. It refers to seeking a higher court’s review of a lower court’s decision to obtain a reversal, modification, or clarification of that decision. Legal professionals must precisely comprehend the appeal concept, including its translation into Polish. This article sheds light on the various translations and options available for the term „appeal” in Polish legal terminology. 


The term appeal has several meanings in ordinary English and has a particular meaning in legal English (Cambridge Dictionary): „a request made to a court of law or to someone in authority to change a previous decision.” 

The Black’s Law Dictionary, in its turn, give us a more precise definition: „appeal, n.1. A proceeding undertaken to have a decision reconsidered by a higher authority; esp., the submission of a lower court’s or agency’s decision to a higher court for review and possible reversal <the case is on appeal>. — Also termed petition in error; (in Scots law) falsing of dooms.”  

So, how do we translate it into Polish? 

One common translation for „appeal” in Polish is „apelacja„: „odwołanie się od wyroku do sądu wyższej instancji” (PWN dictionary).  

This term refers to the formal procedure by which a party dissatisfied with a lower court’s decision requests a review by a higher court. 

The term „apelacja” is commonly used in civil and criminal cases and encompasses both the right to appeal and the act of filing an appeal. It accurately captures the essence of the English term and is widely recognized in the Polish legal system. 

Another translation option for „appeal” is „odwołanie„: „zwrócenie się osoby nieakceptującej decyzji jakichś władz do wyższej instancji o ponowne rozpatrzenie sprawy i zmianę lub uchylenie wydanej decyzji” (PWN dictionary). 

This term, while similar to „apelacja,” is generally used in administrative and disciplinary proceedings and refers to challenging a decision made by an administrative body or disciplinary board. It is important to note that „odwołanie” does not always imply a review by a higher court but rather by a superior administrative authority. 

Additionally, in some polish contexts, we can see the term „kasacja„: „w postępowaniu karnym: odwołanie od orzeczenia sądu II instancji do Sądu Najwyższego” (PWN dictionary). 

„Kasacja” (in criminal law) and „skarga kasacyjna” (in civil law/administrative law) refer specifically to seeking the annulment of a court decision. It is typically applicable in situations where a party alleges a violation of the law or a significant procedural error. While „kasacja” shares similarities with „apelacja,” it differs in that it focuses on the invalidation of a decision rather than requesting a review or modification. 

Furthermore, one more term related to „appeal” in legal English is worth mentioning – „zażalenie„: „skarga na kogoś lub coś, odwołanie się od postanowienia sądu lub prokuratora” (PWN dictionary). 

It signifies a complaint or objection filed during legal proceedings to challenge a specific ruling or decision made by the court. 

„Zażalenie” does not entail a full review of the case; instead, it aims to draw attention to an alleged error or unfairness in the proceedings. It is essential to differentiate between „zażalenie” and „apelacja” since they serve distinct purposes within the legal framework. 

In conclusion, translating „appeal” into Polish encompasses several options depending on the legal context. So: 

  • „apelacja” is the most common translation and refers to the general concept of seeking a higher court’s review; 
  • „odwołanie” applies to administrative and disciplinary proceedings; 
  • kasacja/skarga kasacyjna” focuses on the annulment of a court decision; 
  • and finally, „zażalenie” denotes a complaint or objection during legal proceedings. 

It’s important not to confuse these terms and accurately convey the meaning of „appeal” in the Polish legal system.