There is only one administrative instance. In the matters of the municipalities’ own sphere of competence (e.g. building law), there is a two-stage process of appeals.
The Court only acts upon request (Beschwerde). The Federal Constitution provides for various ways in which proceedings may be brought to the Court: The Administrative Court pronounces judgement on complaints
- against rulings by administrative authorities for unlawfulness
- against the exercise of direct administrative power and compulsion for unlawfulness
- on the ground of breach of the duty to reach a timely decision by an administrative authority
In proceedings on complaints against rulings by administrative authorities for unlawfulness, the authority is free to set aside, modify the contested administrative decision, or dismiss the complaint for formal reasons or on the merits within two months (preliminary decision on a complaint).
There is a submission period (e.g. in general four weeks after an administrative decision has been served) which is included in the complaint instructions of the administrative authority’s decision. Except for complaints concerning exercise of direct administrative power, a complaint is to be filed with the competent administrative authority. The authority passes the complaint, together with the record of the proceedings, on to the Court. The Court’s Registry opens a case file and assigns a reference number to the complaint. The complaint will then be allotted to the competent judge in accordance with the annual allocation of business.
In proceedings before the Court representation by a lawyer is not mandatory. Unless provided otherwise the filing fee to lodge a complaint amounts to Euro 30 (no fee is charged e.g. in proceedings concerning misdemeanours, a higher fee is charged e.g. in public procurement). Parties unable to pay the costs of proceedings may apply for legal aid.
Generally, the ruling is given by a single judge. Certain cases are handled by chambers (Senat) of at least three judges. If foreseen by law professional judges pass the decision jointly with lay judges.
A public hearing is an essential part of the Court’s proceedings.
More details on proceedings before the Court is available in the Proceedings of Administrative Courts Act.