English Information

The Supreme Administrative Court

As one of Austria’s three supreme courts of law, the Supreme Administrative Court (VwGH) has final jurisdiction in matters of administrative law.

It is the court of last resort in cases involving applications for planning permits or industrial operating licences, as well as fiscal and asylum matters, to name just a few. As such it is placed above the lower administrative courts, which, in turn, ensure that administrative authorities such as tax offices, district authorities and the Federal Office for Immigration and Asylum act in conformity with the law. 

All justices of the Supreme Administrative Court are professional judges. Independent in exercising their judicial office, they are only bound by law and are not subject to any instructions, nor are they subject to dismissal or transfer. 

As a rule, the Supreme Administrative Court only acts upon request. The Federal Constitution provides for various ways in which a matter can be brought before the Supreme Administrative Court: 

Natural and legal persons may petition for review of rulings by lower administrative courts if these involve legal questions of fundamental importance.
A legal issue is considered to be of fundamental importance if the contested court ruling departs from relevant past decisions of the Supreme Administrative Court, or if there is no – or no consistent – case law on the issue in question.
If the Supreme Administrative Court finds for the petitioner, it annuls the decision under review and sends it back to the court which issued it. In giving its new decision, this court is bound to apply the interpretation of the Supreme Administrative Court. Otherwise the petition for review is dismissed as unfounded. Under certain circumstances, however, the Supreme Administrative Court itself may decide on the merits, possibly requiring the lower court to establish additional facts. Should a petition for review be found to be formally defective (e.g. if it was filed late or does not involve an issue of fundamental importance), it is dismissed by court order. 

The Supreme Administrative Court can also be called upon in cases where a lower administrative court fails to give a timely decision. Moreover, it rules on disputes regarding jurisdiction and, upon the request of an ordinary (i.e. civil/criminal) court of law, on the legality of decisions issued by administrative authorities or lower administrative courts.  

As a rule, petitions to the Supreme Administrative Court must be drafted and submitted by a lawyer (or alternatively, in fiscal matters, by a tax adviser or certified public accountant). 

Certain submissions, specifically petitions for review and actions for failure to issue a timely decision, are subject to a filing charge of € 240. 

Parties unable to pay the costs of proceedings may apply for legal aid. Application forms are available here:

The Supreme Administrative Court usually sits in chambers of five, while less complex cases and administrative penal matters are handled by chambers of three justices. One justice (the so-called rapporteur) prepares a draft ruling, which the chamber then deliberates and decides on in a meeting which is not open to the public. 

The complete rulings of the Supreme Administrative Court are available on RIS, the Legal Information System of the Republic of Austria, at http://www.ris.bka.gv.at/Vwgh/. Rulings are also periodically published on the Court’s own website.

Facts and figures

President: Mr Rudolf Thienel (since 1 January 2014)
Vice President: Ms Anna Sporrer (since 1 January 2014)
Number of Justices: 68
Number of non-judicial staff: approx. 130
Number of new cases pending in 2015: 4,586
Number of cases closed in 2015: 5,393
Average duration of proceedings in 2015: 8.9 months

For more information on the Supreme Administrative Court’s work, please see its Annual Report (in German).

Contact

Verwaltungsgerichtshof (Supreme Administrative Court)
Judenplatz 11, 1010 Wien
+43 1 531 11-0
www.vwgh.gv.at

General enquiries may be sent to office@vwgh.gv.at or via the contact form
Media enquiries are to be sent to medien@vwgh.gv.at or via the contact form.

Note: submissions relating to proceedings before the Supreme Administrative Court cannot be filed via contact forms or email.

For further details on the work and organisation of the Supreme Administrative Court, please see the Court’s information booklet.