WWW.LAWYER-MONTHLY.COM | MAR 2022 64 THOUGHT LEADER - MICHAEL IBESICH An Overview of Dispute Resolution in Austria Austria’s justice system is known internationally for its robust rule of law and for the vital work of the Vienna International Arbitration Centre. Below, attorney Michael Ibesich provides a useful summary of the Austrian court system, delving into what makes the country’s ADR offerings unique. to the Supreme Court (as second and last instance). Who decides the outcome? Are jurors involved? As a rule, a single judge decides in the first instance. In appeal cases, there is a panel of usually three judges. Deviating from this, in some proceedings expert and informed lay judges decide together with professional judges. This is the case, for example, in labour law cases or in antitrust law cases. What time and costs can generally be expected? A typical civil dispute begins with the filing of the complaint with the competent court. The court reviews the complaint and then serves it to the defendant. If the dispute is one for which a regional court has jurisdiction in the first instance, the defendant has four weeks to respond to the complaint in writing. In the case of disputes before the district court, the first hearing is announced immediately. In cases in front of the regional court, the first hearing takes place after the courts (in the first instance) are to be made to the Higher Regional Courts. The final appeal goes to the Supreme Court. In Vienna alone, there are special courts for commercial matters: the Commercial District Court and the Commercial Regional Court. There are also special labour courts. Outside of Vienna, the district courts operate as commercial courts. In cartel matters the Vienna Higher Regional Court, as the cartel court, decides in the first instance. Appeals go Can you give a short overview on the Austrian civil court system? Which courts have jurisdiction? As a rule, there are three instances in civil proceedings, and sometimes only two. Civil proceedings are initiated before a district court or a regional court. This depends on the amount in dispute or the subject matter of the dispute. In general, district courts have jurisdictions in matters with an amount in dispute of up to €15,000. Furthermore, for example, in tenancy or family law issues, district courts have jurisdiction regardless of the amount in dispute. If the amount in dispute exceeds €15,000, the regional courts have first-instance jurisdiction. They also have jurisdiction in special matters (such as public liability cases). The regional courts are not only a court of first instance but also have jurisdiction over appeals against decisions of the district courts. An appeal to the Supreme Court is possible against the appeal court’s decision if a legal question of fundamental importance is concerned. Appeals against decisions of the regional Arbitration plays a very important role in Austria, not least through the VIAC (Vienna International Arbitration Centre), one of the most recognised arbitration institutions.