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Legal Dictionary

De novo

“De novo” is a Latin phrase that translates to “from the beginning” or “anew.” In a legal context, “de novo” is often used to describe a standard of review or a type of appellate review. When a court hears a case de novo, it means that the appellate court is reviewing the case without giving any deference to the decisions or findings of the lower court. Instead, the appellate court examines the case as if it were being heard for the first time, considering the evidence and legal arguments anew.

This standard is different from other standards of review, such as “abuse of discretion” or “clear error,” where the appellate court may defer to the lower court’s factual findings or legal interpretations to some extent.

Here are a few examples of how “de novo” is used in a legal context:

– De Novo Review: When a court conducts a de novo review, it independently examines the legal issues and may reach different conclusions than the lower court. This is often the case when the legal question at hand is a matter of law rather than a matter of discretion or judgment.

– De Novo Hearing: In some situations, a de novo hearing may be ordered, allowing the parties to present their evidence and arguments again at the appellate level as if the case were being heard for the first time.

– De Novo Appeal: An appeal conducted de novo means that the appellate court is not bound by the lower court’s findings and is free to make its own determinations based on the evidence and the law.

The use of “de novo” in a legal context reflects a desire for a fresh and independent review of the case, particularly when the issues involve questions of law rather than questions of fact.

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