Duhaime's Law Dictionary

De Novo Definition:

Latin: new.

Related Terms: De Facto, Appeal

Anew, over again.1

De novo is used to refer to a trial which starts over, which wipes the slate clean and begins all over again, as if any previous partial or complete hearing had not occurred. The character of a hearing being de novo may arise on an appeal, a judicial review or the final hearing of a matter in which there is an interim order in place.

In re Wilson, Justice Elizabeth Brown of the United States Bankruptcy Appellate Panel of the Tenth Circuit noted that when that court is called upon to review a lower bankruptcy court's interpretation of a statute, it conduct a de novo hearing and a:

"... de novo review requires an independent determination of the issues, giving no special weight to the bankruptcy court's decision."

Similarly, Justice Steven Rhodes of the same court, in re James Harvey Pelfrey:

"The bankruptcy court's final order granting summary judgment is reviewed de novo. Under a de novo standard of review, the reviewing court decides an issue independently of, and without deference to, the trial court's determination."

The term de novo is used in Canada's Criminal Code (2010) at §822(4) in the context of an appeal of a conviction or sentence:

"... if an appeal is taken .... and because of the condition of the record of the trial in the summary conviction court or for any other reason, the appeal court, on application of the defendant, the informant ... is of the opinion that the interests of justice would be better served by hearing and determining the appeal by holding a trial de novo, the appeal court may order that the appeal shall be heard by way of trial de novo ....."


{Editor's note: This definition was quoted with approval by Justice David Gruchy of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Keating v. Nova Scotia (Attorney General) 2001 NSSC 85; also published at 2001 CarswellNS 206, 194 NSR 2d 290; 606 APR 290 and 42 Admin. LR 3d 66.}

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