Litigation 2024

Published date05 February 2024
Subject MatterCorporate/Commercial Law, Litigation, Mediation & Arbitration, Insolvency/Bankruptcy/Re-structuring, M&A/Private Equity, Insolvency/Bankruptcy, Contracts and Commercial Law, Arbitration & Dispute Resolution, Trials & Appeals & Compensation
AuthorMs Bettina Knoetzl, Katrin Hanschitz, Kirstin McGoldrick and Natascha Tunkel

1. General

1.1 General Characteristics of the Legal System

Austrian Civil Law System

The Austrian legal system is steeped in civil law. Laws are based on codes and statutes. Civil procedure contemplates an adversarial process with inquisitorial elements: The proceedings and the judge are limited to the factual allegations of the parties, however, the judge is not a mere "referee" (eg, in the judges' inquisitorial role, they will be the primary interrogator of parties and witnesses).

Obligatory Public Hearings

A public hearing is obligatory. The judge will determine all relevant facts of the case in the hearing, hear parties and witnesses, discuss the content of documents and – if needed – appoint and consider expert witnesses. Parties and lawyers are entitled to interrogate witnesses and experts. The underlying principle is that the judge (as the finder of fact) should get an imme diate and personal impression of the parties, the witnesses and the case.

1.2 Court System

Court Hierarchy

Austrian courts are organised at four levels: Dis trict Courts, Regional Courts, Higher Regional Courts and the Supreme Court. The District Courts are the courts of first instance in mat ters involving a maximum amount in dispute of EUR15,000 and, regardless of the amount in dis pute, in certain subject matters (primarily fam ily law and tenancy law). Regional Courts have jurisdiction over first instance rulings on all legal matters not assigned to District Courts. They are also competent to rule on appeals from District Court decisions. Higher Regional Courts adju dicate appeals from Regional Court decisions.

Specialised Commercial Courts

Commercial matters are decided by commer cial courts. In the capital city, Vienna, a sepa rate commercial district court and commercial regional court are established. In other provinc es, the regional (district) courts also function as commercial courts.

The Supreme Court

The Supreme Court is the highest court of appeal. There is no further (domestic) remedy available with respect to its decisions. Its func tion is to ensure uniform application of the law throughout Austria. Although lower courts are not legally bound by its decisions, the Supreme Court's law has an effective precedential value.

1.3 Court Filings and Proceedings

Court filings are not public. Hearings, how ever, are open to the public. It is only possible to restrict public access if, for instance, such restrictions are necessary for maintaining public order, protecting...

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