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Austrian Law | Law Austria & The Austrian Legal System - From East (Vienna) to West (Innsbruck), Law Experts Attorneys Are Ready to Advise You in Austria


Austrian Law, The Structure of the Austrian Legal System, The Hierarchical Structure of the Austrian Legal System - Your Attorneys in Austria (Law Austria)

Legal norms, Austrian Law, are those norms in Austria whose observance and compliance can generally be enforced by the powers of the state (for example, by seizure). The terms, ‘the law’ and ‘the legal system’ are adequately understood to mean a binding system or set of rules (Law Austria) given to the human community, which can be enforced by coercion if necessary.

The fundamental principle of every state under the rule of law is that its legal system (Law Austria) and its legal norms apply equally to all. In the Austrian legal system, this principle applies not only to all persons, companies, associations, etc., but also to the state itself.

Like many other modern legal systems, the Austrian legal system (Law Austria) is characterised by its hierarchy of norms (see also Austrian jurist and philosopher Hans Kelsen (1881–1973) and his Hierarchy of Norms). The hierarchical structure of the legal system is characterised by the idea of a hierarchy of norms and is based on the fact that its subordinate regulatory structures must correspond to the higher-ranking basic rules (Law Austria). Therefore, in Austrian law, all legal norms have a certain relationship to one another. The essential guidelines of the Austrian legal system are laid down in constitutional law. Individual laws must then correspond to these constitutionally regulated principles. Laws can subsequently be made more specific by means of ordinances. Very specific situations are then usually decided or regulated in greater detail by contracts, judgments or decrees. The result of this hierarchical structure in the Austrian legal system is that a norm considered to be unlawful if this norm violates a superior (higher-ranking) norm. According to this fundamental principle, a law that violates the constitution is therefore unconstitutional and must be repealed.

As Austria is a member of the European Union European Union Law is applicable in Austria (Law Austria). In the European Union (EU) the same principle of hierarchy of norms can be found. European Union Law is based on primary legislation and secondary legislation. Primary legislation is created of the Treaties, general principles established by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) and international agreements. Secondary legislation is made of all the acts which enable the EU to exercise its powers.


Private Law / Civil Law and Public Law in Austrian Law, Law Austria - Law Experts Attorneys in Austria

In order to be able to make a well-founded assessment of a legal issue in Austrian law, it must be determined whether a case should be assigned to private law or to public law.

The question of superiority or subordination is of particular importance when making the distinction between these two areas of law. If, in the exercise of its sovereignty, a holder of sovereignty acts with respect to a private individual, it is usually a matter of public law. If there is no superiority in terms of sovereignty, that is, the acting parties are on an equal footing with one other, then it is generally a matter of private law (Law Austria).

Decrees under public law are individual acts by authorities. Judgments or orders are judicial decisions of the Courts in Austria, mainly under private law.


Private Law and the Different Areas of Private Law in the Austrian Legal System, Austrian Law - Law Experts Attorneys in Austria

In Austrian law, private law is not formulated in a single law. Instead, it is scattered over an almost incomprehensible number of laws. The core of Austrian private law is still the Austrian General Civil Code (ABGB) of 1811 (Law Austria).

The basis of private law is the civil law or general civil law, which basically includes the general areas of civil law, especially th#ose matters which can more or less affect all citizens. Thus, Austrian private law is the part of the legal system that deals with legal relations between citizens as subjects of private law. General private law in Austria can be divided into the law of obligations, property law, family law and inheritance law.

International private law (IPR) should also be mentioned in connection with civil law. International private law deals with legal problems that have an international dimension. IPR also regulates the question as to which country’s private law should be used to assess such cases.

Civil procedure law (procedural law) also plays an important role in Austrian law and is a necessary supplement to substantive private law. Austrian civil procedural law regulates the court proceedings and enforcement of rights and obligations under private law in the Austrian legal system (Law Austria).

In contrast to civil law, special private rights contain legal matters tailored to specific groups of persons (for example, employees, consumers and entrepreneurs). The Austrian legal system includes the following special areas of law:

  • Corporate law: Corporate law primarily regulates issues arising from the association of several persons for a common purpose. The main issues are the formation and management of companies, public limited companies, associations, etc.
  • Competition law: Free competition is a fundamental principle of a free market economy, but it also requires corresponding rules in order to ensure fair competition, so there are also corresponding legal regulations for this area. Competition law should require that all competitors adhere to certain rules, so that unfair practices do not lead to unfair competition.
  • Transport law: The term transport law refers to all legal norms that deal with the transport of economic goods and the storage of these goods. Since economic goods are usually transported across national borders, this area of law is especially characterised by international regulations.
  • Consumer protection law: The essential purpose of consumer protection law is to protect the individual consumer, who is usually at a disadvantage compared to large corporations regarding legal and factual knowledge, regarding the conclusion of contracts and the resulting rights and obligations. Thus, consumer protection law in Austria offers consumers a better legal position and gives them additional rights or stronger legal positions, such as rights of withdrawal, warranty rights, etc.
  • Labour law: Labour law lies at the intersection of public and private law and regulates issues in connection with the performance of work in return for wages. In particular, labour law focuses on issues of worker protection, the right to holidays, dismissal regulations, etc.

Public Law in the Austrian Legal System, Law Austria - Your Attorneys in Austria

Public law regulates legal relationships in which sovereign power is exercised in some form (for example, tax law, trade law and construction law) and the activities of legal entities having sovereign power, such as the federal government or the states. The distinction between public and private law is also important for the competence of these authorities. The administrative authorities are primarily responsible for enforcing public law. Public law includes, among other things, constitutional law, administrative law and public international law.


The Tasks of the Courts in Austria, The Austrian Judicial System, Austrian Law - Law Austria - Your Attorney in Austria

In addition to the passing of legislation in Austria by the parliament and the state parliaments, as well as the administration at the federal, provincial and municipal levels, the Austrian Constitution lists the judiciary as the third fundamental task of the state and ‘pillar’ of the rule of law. In the Austrian Federal Constitution, ordinary jurisdiction is assigned exclusively to the competence of the federal government. All Austrian courts are federal agencies, with the states being empowered to set up state administrative courts as of 2014. It is particularly important to note that the Austrian judicial system is strictly separated from the administrative system at all levels. The Austrian judicial system includes ordinary courts as well as the public prosecution offices and prisons.

The ordinary courts are of particular relevance in all disputes under Austrian law. Austria’s ordinary courts are state institutions established by law in which civil law claims are decided upon in formal proceedings by independent and impartial judges who cannot be replaced or transferred. In Austria, civil disputes are decided either by the district courts or the regional courts. The rule of law in the Austrian legal system (Law in Austria) is safeguarded by an appropriate appeal process in successive stages, so that every decision of a court of first instance can also be reviewed by a higher court (Law Austria).

The public prosecution offices are special judicial authorities separate from the courts, which conduct preliminary proceedings and decide whether to prosecute or dismiss a case. If an indictment is raised, guilt or innocence must be established in formal criminal proceedings by an independent judge.

Apart from the ordinary courts and the public prosecution offices, the Austrian legal system (Law Austria) also includes the courts of public law. The courts of public law have a special position within the Austrian judicial system. The courts of public law consist of the Constitutional Court and the Administrative Court, both having their seats in Vienna. The primary task of the Constitutional Court is to monitor compliance with the Constitution, which also includes fundamental rights. The Administrative Court is responsible for monitoring the lawfulness of the public administration as a whole and thus also rules on complaints and appeals against rulings of administrative courts.

Judges are responsible for determining the law in the Austrian legal system and in Austrian law. The judge adjudicates civil, administrative and criminal law law cases on behalf of the state. In Austria, jurisdiction is guaranteed by independent judges. Therefore, in contrast to the administration, no instructions are given by superiors in the area of jurisdiction. The guaranteed independence of judges is particularly important. If a judge is restricted in any way in this decision-making process, for example, because he would be directly or indirectly affected by a legal decision, this would create a conflict of interest and the judge must refuse to take on the case.


The Role of Attorneys in Austrian Law, Law in Austria - Your Attorneys in Austria

Under Austrian law, attorneys represent their clients before the courts and authorities and exercise their profession independently on a self-employed basis. Under Austrian law, attorneys are obliged to be biased.

In Austria, the Attorneys’ Act (RAO) regulates in detail the professional law regarding attorneys, such as the rights and obligations attorneys must observe when dealing with their clients and third parties, as well as various other questions of professional law.

There are over 6,200 attorneys in Austria. Attorneys in Austria are highly trained and independent legal representatives and advisors who are obliged and responsible only to their clients. Their primary task is to protect, defend and enforce the rights of individuals. Attorneys are bound to an obligation of absolute secrecy towards third parties. Attorneys are represented in Austria by the Austrian bar associations in the states and by the Austrian Bar Association (ÖRAK) which has its headquarters in Vienna.


Your Specialists in Austrian Law - Attorney Mag. Gamsjäger and Attorney Dr Wiesflecker

Attorney Stefan Gamsjäger has a profound understanding of administrative and criminal issues and he regularly represents national and international clients before the Austrian criminalcriminal and administrative courts. Stefan Gamsjäger, of Law Experts Attorneys, is a proven expert on extrajudicial dispute resolution, criminal law law and public law.

Due to his many years of experience in internationally renowned commercial law firms and his specialisation in the field of national and international procedural law as well as civil law, Dr Hannes Wiesflecker has the relevant specialist knowledge and extensive experience to successfully support you in Austria. Attorney Dr Wiesflecker has also successfully completed the International Legal English Certificate (ILEC, University of Cambridge, UK). He is thus able to provide effective legal advice and work in English.

Law Experts Attorneys is a law firm with international experience that maintains offices in Innsbruck (main office), Telfs and Vienna (branch offices). We will be pleased to assist you with comprehensive and competent advice! Click here to send an e-mail to Law Experts Attorneys or call us at +43(512)586 586.

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Find more information on Austrian Law, The Austrian Legal System, Law Austria, The Austrian Judicial System, Proceedings in Austria, Austrian Attorneys and Judges as follows:


Law Austria, Austrian Law, The Austrian Legal System, The Austrian Judicial System

The Austrian Judicial System (Law Austria) is very important for each company and everybody of us who is staying in Austria or is doing business in Austria. Thus, the Austrian Legal System provides e.g. services for enforcement of rights and settlement proceedings. Austria’s judicial system includes ordinary courts, the public prosecution offices, the prisons, the probationary facilities, the Federal Cartel Prosecutor and the Supervisory Authority for Collecting Societies.The Austrian Federal Constitution Act in Article 83 B-VG grants every citizen the right to a trial before a judge of law.


Public Law in Austria | Constitutional Law in Austria, Law Austria, Austrian Law

The Austrian Constitution forms Austria as a representative democracy with a parliamentary system, in which the separation of powers is guaranteed. Legislative power in Austria is with the Nationalrat (National Assembly). The so called Nationalrat in Austria is elected by general federal elections every five year.

Austria's head of state is the "Bundespraesident" (Federal President), who is directly elected by the people once in every six years and is limited to two consecutive terms of office. The Federal President appoints the “Bundeskanzler” (Federal Chancellor) as well as the other members of the Federal Government.


Private Law in Austria, Law Austria, Austrian Law

The Private law in Austria is divided into so called general private law which is applicable to all persons and specialized forms of civil law, which are applicable to e.g. commercial law for businessmen or employment law for employers and employees. In regard to general private law the private law code (Allgemeine Bürgerliche Gesetzbuch (ABGB)), which was enacted in 1811, is most important.

In Austria any natural or legal person is able to bear legal rights and obligations. To establish a valid and binding contract between parties prerequisites as contractual capacity, consensus of the parties, intention, possible and acceptable content have to be met.

In Austria the Legal Information System of the Republic of Austria (RIS) is providing very important information for free. The Legal Information System of the Republic of Austria is a computer-assisted information system on Austrian law, which is coordinated and operated by the Austrian Federal Chancellery and can be used by all citizens to review current legal acts as well as legislation in force.


Court organisation in Austria, Regular courts are organised on several levels, Law Austria

  • District Courts in Austria: District courts in Austria are the first instance to decide civil law cases on certain types of issues as family and rent law cases and with a maximum amount in dispute of 15,000 euros. In addition, the district courts rule on criminal law matters in case of minor offences (e.g theft).
  • Regional Courts in Austria: Regional courts in Austria are responsible for first-instance rulings on all legal matters not assigned to district courts. In addition, they are responsible to rule on appeals against district court decisions as second-instance courts.
  • Higher Regional Courts of Appeal in Austria: Higher regional courts in Austria of appeal have been set up as a third organisational level. Higher regional courts in Austria are located in Vienna, Graz, Linz as well as Innsbruck. These courts of second instance are courts of appeal for all civil and criminal law cases.
  • The Supreme Court in Austria: The Supreme Court in Vienna is the highest instance in civil and criminal law cases. In addition to the Constitutional Court and the Administrative Court the Supreme Court is providing judgments on last level. The Austrian Supreme Court is one of three judicial bodies charged with final appellate jurisdiction in the Republic of Austria. Thus no further remedy is possible against these decisions.
  • Courts of Enforcement in Austria: The district court in Austria provides services in criminal and civil matters and in regard to enforcement. Cases seeking enforcement of foreign or domestic judgments must be brought before the competent court in Austria which, in general, is the district court of the opposing party’s domicile. Relevant for the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments are the Enforcement Act, the Code of Civil Procedure and the Jurisdiction Act. Once the declaration of enforceability has become effective, the foreign judgment may be enforced equal to domestic enforceable titles. The competent court for the motion for enforcement is e.g. the district court where land property that is the object of enforcement is registered; the district court where immovable property that is not registered is located or the district court of the opposing party’s domicile in the case of enforcement against receivables.
  • The Constitutional Court in Austria: The main task of the Constitutional Court is to examine compliance with the Constitution. This Court decides in sessions which are usually held four times a year.
  • The Administrative Court in Austria: The Administrative Court in Austria reviews the lawfulness of public administration. It mainly rules on complaints against last-instance decrees of administrative bodies.
  • Judges in Austria: In Austria about 1,800 professional judges are serving. Judges in Austria have a public law employment relationship with the Federal State. Austrian judges are appointed for an unlimited period of time. Judges in Austria are independent in their role and decision making.
  • Austrian Lawyers, Attorneys in Austria: Lawyers in Austria are 100% independent and thus work on a self-employed basis. Lawyers in Austria exercise their profession under their own economic responsibility and in their own offices or joint law offices. The main requirement for an attorney / solicitor in Austria to act as an attorney is the entry in the register of lawyers. The Lawyers’ Act is the most relevant regulation for the exercise of this profession. In addition, there are numerous guidelines which lawyers must observe. There is one bar association in every Austrian Federal Province. On a Federal level, they belong to the Austrian Federal Bar Association. These associations are public law corporations and autonomous self-governing bodies which safeguard the interests of the profession against the State. In Austria there are more than 6,200 lawyers registered.

Registers in Austria, Austrian Judicial System, Law Austria, Austrian Law

  • The Land Register: The Land Register in Austria is a public register managed by district courts for real-estate rights (e.g. ownership, home ownership, pledges, construction rights, easements and land charges). All these object rights in rem may only be acquired when recorded in the Land Register (principle of recording rights). Everybody may rely upon the correctness and completeness of the Land Register (principle of reliance).
  • The Company Register: The Company Register in Austria is a public register managed by regional courts and it serves to record and disclose all relevant facts regarding all legal entities (e.g. Sole Proprietors, Open Partnerships, Limited Partnerships, Joint-Stock Companies, Limited Liability Companies, Commercial and Industrial Cooperatives). Every legal entity in the Company Register in Austria receives a Company Register Number of the Austrian Company RegisterCompany Register.

Law Austria, Austrian Law in English

Please find important regulations in English (Law Austria) as follows:

Austrian Law, Law in Austria, Legal System & Attorneys - Austrian Law, Law in Austria, Legal System & Attorneys