General information about civil proceedings

Which court has jurisdiction?

The District Courts, the Vienna District Court for Commercial Matters, Regional Courts, the Commercial Court of Vienna, the Labour and Social Court of Vienna, the Higher Regional Courts and the Supreme Court of Austria have jurisdiction in civil legal matters.

Rulings of first instance are generally made by the District Courts and the Labour and Social Court of Vienna. The Regional Courts and the Commercial Court of Vienna also make rulings either as courts of first instance, with the Higher Regional Court as second instance, or alternatively as courts of second instance in relation to District Court rulings.

The Supreme Court of Austria is the final instance in civil legal matters. However, there are admission restrictions (depending on the value in dispute and the ruling of the previous instances), which means not every matter can have its appeal heard by the Supreme Court of Austria.

For more information about the "stages of appeal" go to oesterreich.gv.at.

Functional and local jurisdiction

There are legally prescribed rules in place regarding the jurisdiction of the courts: If a case can be filed in Austria, it must be established before proceedings even begin which court and which magistrate are responsible for the case.

Functional jurisdiction involves – depending on the remit – the allocation to different courts (e.g. Regional or District Court).

Local jurisdiction covers the territorial jurisdiction amongst equivalent courts (e.g. between the Regional Court of Korneuburg and the Regional Court of Krems an der Donau). The court in whose parish the defending party's general legal venue is located generally has jurisdiction.

The general legal venue is the residence of the defending party.

Depending on the type of legal dispute, there may also be special legal venues. If the special legal venue takes the place of the defending party's general legal venue, it is known as the exclusive legal venue. Examples of this include:

  • Marriage disputes
  • Matters of estate
  • Real estate disputes
  • Inventory disputes

Disputing parties are also permitted to agree upon the jurisdiction of a particular court of first instance at a particular venue (agreed legal venue), provided there is nothing stipulated in the detailed regulations to prevent this.

An exclusive legal venue that is not permitted to be altered by means of a legal venue agreement is known as a compulsory legal venue. In practice, an important compulsory legal venue is that of the consumer. Due to fulfilment of a contract with an entrepreneur, such cases are only permitted to be heard by the court of their residence, permanent address or place of employment.

In some cases, legal action can be taken not only at the defendant's general legal venue, but also at another legal venue if preferred, depending on the elective legal venue. For civil proceedings only, there are many different elective legal venues, e.g. the venue of the branch office, the place of performance, the place where goods are kept or the place where the damage occurred.

Courts of first instance

The District Courts (including the District Court for Commercial Matters in Vienna) are generally the courts of first instance, or – if the value threshold is greater than 15,000 Euro – the Regional Courts have jurisdiction as courts of first instance. Also in Vienna are the Labour and Social Court of Vienna and the Commercial Court of Vienna.

However, some cases above the value threshold are still heard at District Courts. These are generally disputes over family circumstances and rental disputes, as well as all executions.

Further links

Bei allen personenbezogenen Bezeichnungen gilt die gewählte Form für beide Geschlechter und entspricht damit in diesem Text exakt der gesetzlichen Terminologie der Zivilprozessordnung (Art. 5 ZPO).

Translated by the European Commission
Last update: 2 March 2022

Responsible for the content: oesterreich.gv.at Editorial Staff