de novo

De novo is a Latin term that means "anew," "from the beginning," or "afresh." When a court hears a case “de novo,” it is deciding the issues without reference to any legal conclusion or assumption made by the previous court to hear the case. An appellate court hearing a case “de novo” may refer to the lower court’s record to determine the facts, but will rule on the evidence and matters of law without deferring to that court’s findings. A trial court may also hear a case “de novo” following the appeal of an arbitration decision.

De novo review occurs when a court decides an issue without deference to a previous court's decision. Trial de novo occurs when a court decides all issues in a case, as if the case was being heard for the first time.

Trials de novo are not common due to the time and judicial resources required to try the facts of a case more than once. However, de novo review of legal matters on appeal is quite common. 

[Last updated in August of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team]