Court organization in Austria

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Jurisdiction in Austria

The organization of courts in Austria is characterized by a division into ordinary jurisdiction (for criminal and civil law) and courts under public law (for constitutional and administrative law). In contrast to other federal states , the court responsible for all courts in the Republic of Austria was the federal government . This changed in the course of the implementation of the 2012 amendment to administrative jurisdiction . With the establishment of regional administrative courts, the federal states have also been involved in jurisdiction for the first time since January 1, 2014 .

To name and location of the individual dishes see list of Austrian dishes .

Ordinary jurisdiction

The current four-tier organization of the ordinary courts dates back to 1849. Basically there is a two-stage, in special cases (approval of the [extraordinary] revision or the appeal appeal) three-stage appeal .

District Courts

Since January 2018 there are 115 district courts in Austria (abbreviation BG ). You are responsible:

  • in civil law matters for civil litigation generally with a value in dispute of no more than 15,000 euros; for certain items, however, regardless of the amount in dispute (e.g. marriage and family items, rent and lease items, border and easement matters, property damage matters).
  • for most matters that need to be dealt with in the proceedings other than litigation , such as family law matters (custody of children, maintenance for children, regulation of visiting rights, adoptions, adult protection (formerly: trustee ), probate treaties and the like), declarations of death for missing persons, Declaration of invalidity (declaration of invalidity) of lost securities, disputes between co-owners of real estate, certain matters of condominium and tenancy law and proceedings on expropriation compensation ;
  • for all executions (foreclosures) and for insolvency things from people who do not run a business ( personal bankruptcy , so-called debt settlement proceedings.);
  • in criminal cases for offenses for which only a fine or imprisonment is threatened, the maximum amount of which does not exceed one year, the public prosecutor can be represented by a district attorney ;
  • for keeping the land register .

Single judges or judicial officers decide at the district court . The latter on issuing conditional payment orders, in enforcement and insolvency proceedings, in child maintenance and in land register matters. The head of the district court is responsible for the organizational management.

In Vienna there are twelve general district courts, each of which is responsible for one or more municipal districts, as well as a separate district court for commercial matters. In Graz there were separate district courts for civil law matters, for criminal matters as well as a juvenile court, which were merged on January 1, 2005 to form the Graz District Court. Since January 1, 2007, in addition to this, which has been renamed the Graz East District Court, the Graz West District Court has also existed due to the increased resident population.

Regional courts

Regional Court for Criminal Matters Vienna (2015), the largest ordinary court in Austria
Regional Court for Criminal Matters Graz (2008)

The 20  regional courts (abbreviation LG; also called courts of first instance , abbreviation GH I ) are set up in 16 places of supraregional importance, namely in Eisenstadt , Feldkirch , Graz , Innsbruck , Klagenfurt , Korneuburg , Krems an der Donau , Leoben , Linz , Ried im Innkreis , Salzburg , St. Pölten , Steyr , Wels , Vienna and Wiener Neustadt . In Graz and Vienna there are two courts each, one for civil cases and one for criminal cases . Vienna also has its own Vienna Commercial Court and the Vienna Labor and Social Court .

Their responsibility includes both first and second instance tasks.

  • In civil law matters, the regional courts are primarily responsible for all civil proceedings that do not belong before the district courts. This also includes all labor and social law matters and official liability matters as well as a range of special matters. As a rule, a single judge decides . If the amount in dispute is more than 100,000 euros, however, the parties can apply at the beginning of the proceedings that the matter be heard by a senate composed of three professional judges (in commercial matters : two professional judges and one professional lay judge ). In labor and social law matters, a senate made up of a professional judge and two expert lay judges (one each from the employers and employees) decides.
  • In criminal matters , the regional court has jurisdiction in the first instance for all crimes and offenses that do not belong before the district court. Depending on the offense, either decides
    • a single judge ,
    • an aldermen's senate , consisting of a professional judge and two lay judges or two professional judges and two lay judges, or
    • the jury , which is composed of three professional judges and eight jurors.
      Strictly speaking, these forms are not an organizational form of the regional court, but are only created there: They are a procedural form.
  • Furthermore, the regional court has extensive powers in preliminary proceedings - also with regard to those criminal offenses for which the district court is responsible in the main hearing.
  • The commercial register (formerly the commercial register ) is kept at the regional courts (in Vienna at the commercial court) . A single judge or a judicial officer decides here .
  • In addition, the regional court is responsible for insolvency proceedings (bankruptcies, reorganization proceedings ), provided these do not belong before a district court.
  • In the second instance , the regional courts decide through senates , which are formed from three professional judges (in commercial matters: two professional and one professional lay judge), as an appeal court on appeals against judgments and resolutions of the district courts.

A public prosecutor's office has been set up at every regional court responsible for criminal matters . In addition, each responsible for criminal matters Regional Court is located at the seat of a court house jail ( prison ) .

Until 1993, the regional courts not located in a regional capital were called district courts (exception: Feldkirch regional court). They still correspond to the district division of the monarchy today .

Higher Regional Courts

The four higher regional courts (abbreviation OLG; also called courts of second instance , abbreviation GH II ) consist of

As courts of appeal , they are responsible

  • in civil law matters for appeals and appeals against the judgments and resolutions of the regional courts issued in the first instance,
  • in criminal cases for (full) appeals and complaints against judgments and decisions that the regional court has issued by the single judge, and for appeals against the amount of the penalties imposed in judgments of the regional court as lay judge or jury.

The higher regional courts decide in senates from three judges (in commercial matters: two professional and one professional lay judge), in labor and social law matters, however, from senates made up of three professional and two expert lay judges.

As a cartel court, the Vienna Higher Regional Court is the first instance responsible for the entire federal territory in cartel law matters.

The presidents of the higher regional courts are responsible for important judicial administration agendas.

A senior public prosecutor's office is also set up at each higher regional court.

Originally (1855) there were 19 higher regional courts, namely in

Supreme Court

Seat of the Supreme Court in the Palace of Justice

The Supreme Court in Vienna (abbreviation OGH ) is the highest instance of ordinary jurisdiction. It was created in 1848 by transforming the Supreme Judicial Office founded in 1749. He decides in civil law cases in the third instance on revisions against judgments and revision appeals against decisions which have the Courts of Appeal and Courts of Appeal precipitated as the second instance. In criminal cases he recognizes annulment complaints against judgments of the regional courts as lay judges and jury courts.

The Supreme Court usually decides in senates of five judges ( court councilors ), in certain individual cases by three judges. There are currently ten civil law and five criminal law senates. In addition, a senate has been set up to decide on legal remedies against decisions of the cartel court and a specialist senate for patent, trademark and design protection matters.

A strengthened Senate made up of a total of eleven judges will recognize legal issues of fundamental importance . In labor and social law matters, two (five-judge senates) or four (reinforced senates) expert lay judges are called in at the Supreme Court.

At the Supreme Court, the General Procuratorate participates in all criminal proceedings. In doing so, it does not intervene as the prosecution, but instead represents the interests of the state in the administration of justice.

Special cases of military jurisdiction and enforcement

According to Art. 84 of the Federal Constitutional Law, military jurisdiction may only exist in Austria in the event of war by means of a separate law . The  ordinary civil courts are responsible for criminal matters of members of the military, also under the Military Criminal Law (MilStG), only the disciplinary punishments according to the Army  Disciplinary Law (HDG) are determined within the hierarchy, with the Ministry of Defense as the highest instance.

In the penal system , the head of the institution is the first instance for administrative offenses, in exceptional cases the Federal Ministry of Justice (regulated in the Penal Code , StVG), otherwise the normal ordinary jurisdiction.

Administrative jurisdiction

The administrative jurisdiction is in Austria


The municipalities are an exception : the legal remedy of appeal against decisions within the municipality's own sphere of activity - with the exception of the municipality of Vienna - is still fundamentally permissible. A complaint to the administrative courts is then only admissible against the decision of the local authority responsible in the second instance. Another exception is Art. 94 B-VG , according to which, instead of complaining to the administrative courts, an appeal to the ordinary courts can be opened by law, which has happened in patent law or in the execution of sentences.

According to Art. 144 B-VG , the Constitutional Court decides on complaints against decisions (findings and resolutions) of the administrative courts of the first instance ( special administrative jurisdiction ). This peculiarity is due to the fact that in Austria the highest courts (Supreme Court, Administrative Court and Constitutional Court) have equal rank and therefore decisions of the Administrative Court can no longer be reviewed by the Constitutional Court. There is no possibility of a constitutional complaint in the area of ​​ordinary jurisdiction .

As a result of the 2012 amendment to administrative jurisdiction, administrative jurisdiction was organized in two stages for the first time in Austrian legal history from January 1, 2014. Previously, administrative jurisdiction was only organized on a one-level basis: decisions of the last instance before the Constitutional Court (for unconstitutionality) and before the Administrative Court (for other unlawfulness) could be appealed. Since this legal protection system was viewed as inadequate over time, a large number of collegial authorities with judicial influence were set up, according to the Independent Administrative  Senate (UVS) as a court-like instance (B-VG amendment 1988, Federal Law Gazette No. 685/1988 ), the Independent Federal Asylum  Senate  (UBAS; 2008 Asylum Court AsylGH), the Independent Financial Senate  (UFS).

Constitutional jurisdiction

The constitutional court in Austria from 1919 established the Constitutional Court ( Constitutional Court exercised) (predecessor from 1869 to 1919, the Supreme Court ).

He is particularly responsible for:

A special feature of the Austrian legal system is that the Constitutional Court, the Administrative Court and the Supreme Court, according to the constitution, are on the same level ( highest courts ). Because of this formal equality, unlike in Germany , no constitutional complaint to a court of public law is permitted against acts of ordinary jurisdiction . The ordinary courts, the Administrative Court and the Administrative Courts can, however, apply to the Constitutional Court for a review of the norms if there are concerns about laws or ordinances.

If an ordinary court does not submit an application for a legal review to the Constitutional Court, since January 1, 2015, a person who claims to have been violated in their rights as a party to a case decided by such a court in the first instance because of the application of an unconstitutional law can also issue proceedings Fight against a law before the Constitutional Court on the occasion of an appeal against this decision. Under certain conditions, a person can also contest a law directly at the Constitutional Court, namely if they claim their rights have been violated directly by its unconstitutionality and the law has become effective for them without a court decision or without the issuance of an administrative decision.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Imperial resolution of June 14, 1849, with which the basic features of the new judicial system are approved ( RGBl. No. 278/1849 )
  2. judicial authorities. Retrieved November 23, 2018 .
  3. In addition, Vienna had its own juvenile court , which was responsible for criminal matters of juveniles and young adults both at the level of the district court and the court of first instance. However, this court was dissolved on June 30, 2003 and its tasks were transferred to the Regional Court for Criminal Matters Vienna or the Vienna District Courts , depending on the threat of punishment .
  4. Very high regulations on the establishment of judicial authorities, ordinance of January 19, 1853 ( RGBl. No. 10/1853 , Appendix D, § 5 ); amended by Federal Law Gazette No. 91/1993
  5. ^ Ordinance on the establishment of a higher regional court in Linz (Danube) of February 9, 1939 ( RGBl. I. p. 166 ). The originally planned Linz Higher Regional Court ( RGBl. No. 289/1849 ) was dissolved in 1854 ( RGBl. No. 206/1854 , see No. 250/1853 ), as was the Higher Regional Court of Klagenfurt ( RGBl. No. 340/1849No. 152/1854 , see No. 35/1854 ).
  6. Ordinance of January 19, 1853 ( RGBl. No. 10/1853 )
  7. ^ Decree of the Minister of Justice of October 11, 1852, with which the organization of the Collegial Judicial Authorities of Dalmatia is made known ( RGBl. No. 210/1852 )
  8. Ordinance of the Ministries of the Interior, Justice and Finance of April 6, 1854, regarding the political and judicial organization of the Kingdom of Hungary , ( RGBl. No. 80/1854 )
  9. Decree of the Minister of Justice of October 11, 1852, with which the judicial system for the Lombardy-Venetian Kingdom is made known ( RGBl. No. 215/1852 )
  10. Justice Ministerial Decree of August 21, 1848 ( JGS No. 1176/1848 ), as well as the Imperial Patent of August 7, 1850, which establishes the organization of the highest court and cassation court in Vienna ( RGBl. No. 325/1850 )
  11. Tenth subsection §§ 107-118.
  12. Competencies on the website of the Constitutional Court.