Austria: Austria: Major Reform Of Administrative Jurisdiction System Takes Effect As From 1 January 2014

Under the existing system in Austria, legal review against decisions and acts of authorities is normally granted by one or more - higher ranked - authorities. Only afterwards do the legal subjects have access to the Constitutional Court (Verfassungsgerichtshof) or the Supreme Administrative Court (Verwaltungsgerichtshof), both of which are restricted in their power to scrutinize the contested administrative decisions. However, in particular the European Human Rights Convention (EHRC) has forced Austria to introduce more and more independent bodies or authorities that include judicial elements for the review of administrative actions or non-actions. The most widely known of such bodies are the Independent Administrative Tribunals (Unabhängige Verwaltungssenate) in the federal states. In the end, more than one hundred of such authorities with quasi-powers of a court came into being. The Supreme Administrative Court was permanently congested with pending complaints, leading the average duration for the proceedings to rise to more than 20 months.

Two-stage administrative jurisdiction and "9+2-model"

After more than twenty years of reform discussions, a completely reorganised system of administrative legal review was established in 2012 and 2013, mainly through two major legislative packages (Federal Law Gazette I 2012/51 and I 2013/33). This reform will become comprehensively effective with 1 January 2014. Austria's federal legislator adopted a so-called "9+2 model": One Federal Administrative Court (Bundesverwaltungsgericht), one Federal Fiscal Court (Bundesfinanzgericht), and nine Administrative Courts in the federal states (Verwaltungsgerichte).

In principle, only one administrative instance will exist in the future, but there will be a two-staged administrative jurisdiction: Decisions or other administrative acts of direct enforcement (Akte unmittelbarer verwaltungsbehördlicher Befehls- und Zwangsgewalt), but also failures to take a decision, can be challenged before one of the eleven administrative courts. There will still be two-stage level of appeal within the administration only for some matters at the municipal level, such as building procedures.

As a rule, the Federal Fiscal Court will have jurisdiction where public taxes and duties are enforced by federal fiscal authorities, and the Federal Administrative Court will be competent for federal law that is enforced directly by federal authorities. All other matters are referred to the Administrative Courts in the federal states. The federal legislator and the federal states may provide for exemptions from these principles. Hence, it is vital to take into account the specific provisions on the jurisdiction in the relevant federal laws and the laws of the federal states.

The courts will take their decisions through individual judges, in specific cases through senates. The administrative judges will be supported by legal clerks (Rechtspfleger), who may– to a limited extent and subject to review by the judge – make their own decisions.

Restricted Access to the Supreme Administrative Court

One can file a complaint to the Constitutional Court against judgments from the administrative courts, in particular for alleged infringements of constitutionally-guaranteed rights or the application of an unconstitutional law or an unlawful ordinance.

However, access to the Supreme Administrative Court will be restricted to the review of legal questions of fundamental importance. The Administrative Courts will have to decide whether to admit access to the Supreme Administrative Court. Such an instrument of the limitation of access to the Supreme Court is already known in Austria's Code of Civil Procedure and aims at relieving the Court and, subsequently, significantly shortening the duration of proceedings before it.

Legal questions of fundamental importance are those questions in which the administrative courts deviate from the constant jurisprudence of the Supreme Administrative Court, where such jurisprudence is missing, or the legal question was addressed inconsistently in the past. In addition, cases involving minor administrative fines are not admissible for review before the Supreme Administrative Court.

New procedural rules

The federal legislator decided to foresee a specific procedural law, namely the Administrative Court Procedure Act (Verwaltungsgerichtsverfahrensgesetz), for the nine administrative courts in the federal states and the Federal Administrative Court. Proceedings before the Federal Fiscal Court are regulated by an amended version of the Federal Taxation Rules (Bundesabgabenordnung).

The new procedural rules for the administrative courts are based on the existing procedural law that was applied before the authorities and other bodies reviewing administrative decisions. Nevertheless, some important changes are to be observed, such as:

  • The time to file an appeal against a decision was extended from two to four weeks. However, the deadlines for filing a complaint against administrative acts of direct enforcement and in case an authority fails to take a decision remain unchanged.
  • The requirements on the complaint documents are more stringent: The expressed grounds and claims to a certain degree limit the scrutinizing power of the administrative courts.
  • The competence for the authority of first instance to issue a preliminary decision on the complaint (Beschwerdevorentscheidung) was extended.

As before, there is no mandatory representation by an attorney and costs are only reimbursed when an administrative act of direct enforcement has been successfully challenged. Moreover, for investigation purposes before the administrative courts, the General Administrative Procedure Act (Allgemeines Verwaltungsverfahrensgesetz) is to be applied unless specific rules exist. As under the law currently in place, specific rules exist for the proceedings in terms of administrative penal procedures.

An additional important change compared to the existing system: the Supreme Administrative Court may order an administrative court to catch up with a delayed decision within a reasonable period of time. However, the Supreme Administrative Court may not take the decision on its own instead of the administrative court.

Transitional provisions

Special provisions regarding the transition into the new system of administrative jurisprudence are contained in the Federal Constitutional Law and in a specific Act with transitional provisions (Verwaltungsgerichtsbarkeits-Übergangsgesetz). Amongst other matters, that Act explicitly provides for unique extended deadlines for the filing of certain complaints to the Supreme Administrative Court and the Constitutional Court.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
 
Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Topics
 
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
 
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.

Disclaimer

The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.

General

Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions