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Litigation in Austria

Litigation in Austria

Updated on Friday 21st October 2016

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What are the types of courts in Austria?


The court system in Austria is divided into:

- the Supreme Court, 

- four courts of appeal (in Vienna, Graz, Linz and Innsbruck),

- 20 courts of justice,

- 141 district courts.

There are also the General Procurator’s Office, four Offices of Senior Public Prosecutors and 17 Offices of Public Prosecution.

The offices take care of the public interest, while the courts are adjudicating legal cases.

Besides the above, the Austrian judicial system also consists in the Constitutional Court and the Administrative Court.


What are the responsibilities of the courts in Austria?


The Supreme Court in Austria is the highest instance in civil and penal law cases. The decision taken by its president cannot be reappealed in another court.

The first instance courts (the 141 district courts) are hearing civil law cases when the penalty is below EUR 10,000 and the maximum prison punishment is below one year. In certain cases, stipulated by the law, the penalty may exceed EUR 10,000 (especially in family matter cases).

For the rest of the cases, the regional courts are responsible. The regional courts are also considered second instance courts for the cases already heard in the district courts.

The courts of appeal are second instance courts for penal and civil law cases. The president of one court is also responsible for the administration of all the courts (district or regional) from his court district. He must follow the regulations of the Federal Minister of Justice.

The Austrian Constitutional Court is checking the compliance of the laws and decrees with the Austrian Constitution. It is a separated body of the Austrian judicial system and its decision cannot be contested.

The Administrative Court must examine the public administrative decision in order to see if it complies with the Austrian laws (with an exception on the ordinances, checked by the Constitutional Court).


What are the responsibilities of the Arbitration Court in Austria?


Arbitration courts are private judicial institutions, established on the grounds of an arbitral agreement signed by the parties involved in the process. The parties can nominate the persons with decisional powers. The only issue related to it is that the arbitral courts cannot enforce their decisions to the parties, so it’s often used that an appeal is lodged with the ordinary courts. The costs of such arbitration process are usually pretty high and the objectivity of the person in charge with taking a decision is usually questionable.


How long does litigation in Austria take?


Depending on the type of case and the fact that an appeal is lodged with a second instance court, a trial in Austria may take from two months to several years.

If you need more information about the courts and the legal procedures, you may contact our law firm in Austria.


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