An appellate court, commonly called a court of appeals, appeal court, court of appeal (British English), court of second instance or second instance court, is any court of law that is empowered to hear an appeal of a trial court or other lower tribunal. In most jurisdictions, the court system is divided into at least three levels: the trial court, which initially hears cases and reviews evidence and testimony to determine the facts of the case; at least one intermediate appellate court; and a supreme court (or court of last resort) which primarily reviews the decisions of the intermediate courts, often on a discretionary basis. A jurisdiction's supreme court is that jurisdiction's highest appellate court. Appellate courts nationwide can operate under varying rules.
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The authority of appellate courts to review the decisions of lower courts varies widely from one jurisdiction to another. In some areas, the appellate court has limited powers of review. Generally, an appellate court's judgment provides the final directive of the appeals courts as to the matter appealed, setting out with specificity the court's determination that the action appealed from should be affirmed, reversed, remanded or modified.