HOW THE CENTRAL AUTHORITY WORKS IN AUSTRIA

This article will provide guidance on How The Central Authority Works in Austria.  The Hague Service Convention, formally referred to as the ‘Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters,’ stands as the premier international treaty for serving papers across borders. Its purpose is to streamline and establish a uniform procedure for the service of legal documents among participating nations. As a signatory to the Hague Service Convention, Austria has established a central authority. This authority plays a crucial role in facilitating the service of legal documents from other member countries, ensuring compliance with the provisions outlined in the treaty.  If you found this article helpful, kindly consider leaving us a review. Click the link to share your feedback, and we would greatly appreciate a five-star review.

The Austrian Federal Ministry of Justice serves as the central authority in Austria for managing incoming requests pertaining to the service of documents under the Hague Service Convention. In order to commence the process of serving legal documents in Austria per the Hague Service Convention, the party seeking such service (typically a participant in a legal proceeding) must duly fill out a designated form as mandated by their respective country. This document is commonly known as the ‘Hague Service Convention Request Form’ or a similar designation.

The party making the request is responsible for submitting the duly completed request form along with the relevant documents to their respective country’s central authority. Subsequently, the central authority in the requesting party’s country will forward the request to the central authority in Austria. Following the successful completion of the service, the Austrian central authority will duly furnish a certificate of service or an equivalent document, serving as irrefutable evidence that the aforementioned documents have been duly served.

It is of utmost importance to adhere to the precise protocols delineated in the Hague Service Convention. The abilities of a private process service agency like Undisputed Legal can come in handy here. Specifically, the Hague Service Convention does not encompass all categories of documents or legal matters. Our process servers specialize in international law when undertaking the service of documents under this Convention, which is important since certain documents may be exempted or subject to specific regulations. Please click here to watch the video on International Process Service.

Legal Authority in Austria

In civil and criminal cases, Austrians have the highest court of appeal, the Supreme Court of Justice (Oberster Gerichtshof or OGH).   Supreme Court of Justice is the highest court in Austria’s general court system (ordentliche Gerichtsbarkeit) and has final appeal authority in all civil and criminal court proceedings. 

In Austria, the courts of first instance are either the district courts (Bezirksgerichte) or the regional courts (Landesgerichte).  Regardless of the amount in dispute, district courts have the authority to rule on commercial cases having a value at stake of less than EUR 15,000,  some matters of family law, and certain disputes involving lease agreements.  For any business dispute above EUR 15,000, the first level of jurisdiction rests with the regional courts. 

The Supreme Court of Austria (Oberster Gerichtshof) is the court of last resort in the country.  Decisions made by the Supreme Court or the Appellate Court of Austria are generally binding on lower courts.  The rulings of lower courts do not bind higher courts.

Who can issue summons in Austria?

The Ministry of Justice (Bundesminister für Justiz) is the branch of the Austrian government in charge of the country’s judicial system. The ministry is responsible for administrative oversight, paying judges and prosecutors, maintaining their facilities, and running the prison system.

The body is responsible for representing the executive branch before the Constitutional Court and the Republic of Austria before the European Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights via its Constitutional Office (Verfassungsdienst). The Constitutional Office also provides support to other departments by reviewing the legality of proposed laws drafted by other departments. 

The Civil Procedure Code of Austria (Zivilprozessordnung, ACCP) had its provisions updated on July 14, 2023.  In a civil case, distant participation by some or all parties is possible, depending on the judge’s discretion. Court has the authority to decide whether or not to permit remote participation, and in doing so, it must take into account procedural economy and existing technological facilities. Additionally, the court must either have the consent of all parties to hold a remote hearing or announce the remote hearing and provide the parties an opportunity to object within a certain amount of time. Holding a remote hearing is not allowed if any party promptly opposes doing so. The parties may only propose that the court hold a distant hearing; they do not have the right to urge that the court do so.

 The purpose of pretrial hearings is to question the parties and ‘informed persons’ and hear testimony from the experts who prepared the reports. Our local process servers are highly skilled in the intricacies of the delivery of legal documents across international borders. Our team at Undisputed Legal possesses extensive knowledge and expertise in navigating the intricate requirements, regulations, and procedures associated with the delivery of legal documents across various jurisdictions, including Austria.

Delivery of summons in Austria

The legal system of Austria is known as civil law.  The Austrian Code of Civil Procedure (ACCP; Zivilprozessordnung – ZPO) governs all aspects of civil litigation in the country.  Jurisdictional and organizational details of civil process and Austrian courts are governed by the Austrian Law on Jurisdiction (Jurisdiktionsnorm – JN).  ).

One party initiates a civil case by filing an action with the court.  The court will next have the defendant served with the statement of claim and require a statement of defense to be filed within four weeks. There will be a preliminary hearing to establish ground rules for the trial, including how testimony will be presented.  After all witnesses have testified, the judge will announce a verdict and finish the trial.

The plaintiff always initiates civil litigation by submitting a statement of claim to the court.  The court will next serve the defendant with the statement of claim after quickly determining that it has jurisdiction.  In Austria, the legal process of serving is often carried out in accordance with the Delivery Act (Zustellgesetz). In most cases, the courts and authorities will utilize a special registered mail (Rückscheinbrief) to serve legal papers.  A notice to the addressee is required that the document will be held at the post office for two weeks if delivery is unsuccessful.  The document would be considered delivered on the first day it might have been picked up from the post office.  This may not be true after all.

Electronic legal communication (Elektronischer Rechtsverkehr) must be used by all parties who are represented by counsel. It is possible to request a preliminary injunction from the appropriate court.  It is possible to seek a preliminary injunction before beginning formal civil litigation.  An injunction may be sought for claims for money, claims for specific performance (including acceptance and omission), and claims for rights and legal relationships.

The primary need for a preliminary injunction is the existence of an imminent and serious risk of irreparable injury.  There must be a request for relief, facts supporting that request, and an explanation of why the seized court has jurisdiction (section 226 ACCP), all included in the statement of claim.  In most cases, the assertion must be backed up with evidence.  A statement of claim must be amended by the court if it contains inconsistencies.

The defendant’s statement of defense has to contain [A.] a detailed explanation of the remedy sought, [B.] an explanation of why the plaintiff’s allegations in the statement of claim are false, and [C.] an objection to the court’s jurisdiction.

The court need not have subject matter jurisdiction over the underlying claim in order to hear an Aufrechnungseinrede. The defendant in a case heard in a regional court is required to submit a defense brief within four weeks after serving. The court may issue a default judgment (Versäumungsurteil) if one of the parties to the case fails to appear in court for the proceedings.  If the defendant fails to submit its defense brief by the deadline, then the plaintiff may seek a default judgment. The accused may raise an objection (Einrede der Unzuständigkeit) challenging the court’s authority to hear the case.  The time to raise this objection is before the defendant verbally argues its case.

Specifics of the Hague convention in Austria

If the prerequisites for service according to Article 5(1)(a) of the Hague Service Convention have been met, the court is authorized to carry out the request for service immediately via the postal routes or in the manner desired by the seeking authority (Art 5(1)(b).

Service through voluntary acceptance by the recipient is available unless the requesting authority specifically requests a different method.  The document to be served must be written in German or accompanied by a translation into German in accordance with Austria’s declaration, which states that Austria’s Central Authority would only arrange for formal service if the document is written in German.  Our local Undisputed Legal servers possess well-established networks and extensive connections within Austria, encompassing esteemed solicitors, local authorities, and other distinguished professionals. This network possesses immense value in expediting the efficient service of documents and effectively addressing any challenges.

Unless the person being served is a citizen of the issuing state, Austria objects to the serving of process by diplomatic or consular agents of other Contracting States inside Austrian territory, as allowed for in Article 8(1). Local courts grant service certifications required by Art. 6. Requests for service submitted by foreign consular representatives inside the Republic of Austria subject to Art. The Federal Ministry of Justice shall receive nine as the central authority. Delays in the timely delivery of legal documents can potentially lead to substantial legal and financial ramifications. At Undisputed Legal, we aim to carry out the seamless execution of document service, ensuring optimal efficiency and strict adherence to designated timelines.

A request for a binding copy of the payment order is included in the claim form for Mahnverfahren (payment order procedures). If the defendant files an objection to the payment order in a timely manner, the claimant will get a copy of the objection along with a summons to a hearing (which commences regular procedures) or an enforceable copy of the payment order (writ of execution – Exekutionstitel). In District Court procedures, the summons time is currently undefined; in Regional Court proceedings, however, it is at least three weeks.

power of attorney in Austria

An ‘authentication’ occurs when a designated public official (such as a consular officer at an embassy or consulate) attests to the validity of a document by validating the signature and/or seal and the authority of the person who signed, issued, or certified (a copy of) the document. The Honorary Consulate also acts as an authentication service.

The Consulate will not be responsible for the accuracy of any information included. A valid form of identification (passport, for example) is required of anybody requesting authentication services. A reciprocal recognition of each other’s ‘public documents’ is required under the 1961 Hague Convention, to which Austria and the United States are parties. That is to say, there is no need to have these papers authenticated by the embassy or consulate of the receiving nation. But an apostille is required for all official records like this.

Apostilles are used only to attest to the validity of a document’s signature, the authority of the signer, and the origin of any stamps or seals attached to the document. The apostille may be either a separate sheet of paper or a stamp affixed to the official document. Apostilles are issued only when specifically requested

An apostille may be obtained in Austria from federal governors or governments, federal province governors, federal court presidents, and foreign ministers. Documents issued in the United States must be authenticated by the Department of State’s Office of Authentication and by the state’s Secretary of State and Deputy Secretary of State. As a reminder, in order to get a document certified by the (Deputy) Secretary of State in the state where it was executed, if it was signed before a notary public or if a government office did not issue it, it must first be certified by the Clerk of Court in the county where it was commissioned.

The notarial services provided by notarizing officers at any U.S. Embassy or Consulate overseas are equivalent to those provided by a notary public in the United States. A document notarized by a foreign notary may also be validated so that it can be used in the United States. The Hague Apostille Convention makes this a streamlined procedure that does not need the involvement of embassies or consulates in member nations. 

The individual seeking the notarial service must present in person at an embassy or consulate of the United States. The notarizing officer is responsible for verifying the signer’s identity, ensuring that the signer understands the document’s contents to be notarized, and ruling out any possibility of coercion or undue influence. When consular employees at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate suspect that a notarization request is being used to facilitate illegal or inappropriate action, they have the discretion to refuse to execute the document. Even if a country is not a signatory to the Hague Apostille Convention, its consular staff may authenticate papers.All nationalities are welcome to make an appointment for notary services. A notarized document will usually only be valid inside the United States. It is not necessary to schedule separate appointments to get each document notarized.

An Austrian notary public (notar) can notarize the document, and since both Austria and the United States are signatories to the Hague Convention on the Legalisation of Foreign Public Documents, there is an alternative procedure for the notarization of documents issued in Austria that will be used in the United States.  The Austrian government offers a judicial authentication service known as an Apostille.  After going through this procedure, documents issued in Austria may now be used in the USA.

Documents bearing the Apostille seal are legitimate in all countries that have ratified the Hague Convention on the legalization of foreign public documents. A document is often only recognized in its nation of origin. In the past, getting a document validated so it could be used in another nation was a lengthy and difficult process that required many agencies in the country of issuance and, finally, the Consulate of the country in question.

At Undisputed Legal, we aim to serve legal papers across international borders in a quick and effective way. Our team has a lot of knowledge and experience in figuring out the complicated rules, laws, and processes needed to send legal papers to different countries, including Austria. We are dedicated to keeping the highest standards for document service.  Austria is known for its rich mix of languages and cultures. Undisputed Legal has significant experience in serving papers all over the world, and our main goal is to make sure that papers are written and sent in the local language with accuracy and respect for the culture. 

OUR PROCESS

Documents can be faxed (800) – 296-0115, emailed ps@undisputedlegal.com, mailed to 590 Madison Avenue, 21 Floor, New York, New York 10022, or dropped off at any of our locations. We do require pre-payment and accept all major credit and debit cards. Once payment is processed, your sales receipt is immediately emailed for your records.

Drop-offs must call and make an appointment first to be added to building security to permit access to our office. Documents for service must be in a sealed envelope with payment in the form of a money order or attorney check (WE DO NOT ACCEPT CASH) payable to UNDISPUTED LEGAL INC.; All documents are received by our receptionist.

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Alaska | Alabama | Arkansas | Arizona | California | Colorado | Connecticut | District of Columbia | Delaware | Florida | Georgia | Hawaii | Iowa | Idaho | Illinois | Indiana | Kansas | Kentucky | Louisiana | Maryland | Massachusetts | Maine | Michigan | Minnesota | Mississippi | Missouri | Montana | North Carolina | North Dakota | Nebraska | New Hampshire | New Jersey | New Mexico | Nevada | New York | Ohio | Oklahoma | Oregon | Pennsylvania | Rhode Island | South Carolina | South Dakota | Tennessee | Texas | Utah | Virginia | Vermont | Washington | West Virginia | Wisconsin | Wyoming

INTERNATIONAL COVERAGE AREAS:

Albania | Andorra | Anguilla | Antigua | Argentina | Armenia | Australia | Austria | Azerbaijan | Bahamas| Barbados| Belarus | Belgium | Belize | Bermuda | Bosnia and Herzegovina | Botswana | Brazil | British Honduras | British Virgin Islands | Bulgaria | Canada | Cayman Islands | Central and Southern Line Islands| Chile |China (Macao) | China People’s Republic | Colombia | Costa Rica | Country of Georgia | Croatia | Cyprus | Czech Republic | Denmark | Dominican Republic | Ecuador | Egypt | Estonia | Falkland Islands and Dependences | Fiji | Finland | France | Germany | Gibraltar | Gilbert and Ellice Islands | Greece | Guernsey | Hong Kong | Hungary | Iceland | India | Ireland| Isle of Man | Israel | Italy | Jamaica | Japan |Jersey Channel Islands | Jordan | Kazakhstan | Korea | Kuwait | Latvia| Lithuania | Luxembourg| Malawi | Malaysia | Malta | Mauritius | Mexico | MonacoMontenegro | Montserrat | Morocco | Namibia | Netherlands | New Zealand |Nicaragua | Norway | Pakistan | Panama | Paraguay | Peru | Philippines | Pitcairn |Poland| Portugal | Republic of Moldova | Republic of North Macedonia | Romania |Russian Federation | Saint Vincent and the Grenadines | San Marino | Saudi Arabia | Serbia | Seychelles | Singapore| Slovakia| Slovenia | South Africa | Spain | Sri Lanka | St. Helena and Dependencies | St. Lucia| Sweden | Switzerland | Taiwan | Thailand | Tunisia | Turkey | Turks and Caicos Islands | UkraineUnited Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland | Uruguay | US Virgin Islands | Uzbekistan | Venezuela | Vietnam

OFFICE LOCATIONS

New York: (212) 203-8001 – 590 Madison Avenue, 21st Floor, New York, New York 10022
Brooklyn: (347) 983-5436 – 300 Cadman Plaza West, 12th Floor, Brooklyn, New York 11201
Queens: (646) 357-3005 – 118-35 Queens Blvd, Suite 400, Forest Hills, New York 11375
Long Island: (516) 208-4577 – 626 RXR Plaza, 6th Floor, Uniondale, New York 11556
Westchester: (914) 414-0877 – 50 Main Street, 10th Floor, White Plains, New York 10606
Connecticut: (203) 489-2940 – 500 West Putnam Avenue, Suite 400, Greenwich, Connecticut 06830
New Jersey: (201) 630-0114 – 101 Hudson Street, 21 Floor, Jersey City, New Jersey 07302
Washington DC: (202) 655-4450 – 1101 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. Suite 300, Washington DC 20004

FOR ASSISTANCE SERVING LEGAL PAPERS IN AUSTRIA

Pick up the phone and call Toll Free (800) 774-6922, or click the service you want to purchase. Our dedicated team of professionals is ready to assist you. We can handle all your process service needs; no job is too small or too large!

Contact us for more information about our process-serving agency. We are ready to provide service of process to all our clients globally from our offices in New York, Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island, Westchester, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Washington, D.C.

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Sources

1. There are three supreme courts in Austria:

  1. The Constitutional Court, 
  2. The Supreme Administrative Court, and 
  3. The Supreme Court of Justice.

2. Particular courts have exclusive jurisdiction over particular types of cases, such as (i) those involving commercial disputes between business owners and (ii) those involving labor and social legislation.

3. Depending on the decision made by the trial court, an appeal may be made to either a regional court (for appeals from district court rulings) or one of Austria’s four higher regional courts (Ober­landesgerichte) (for appeals from regional court rulings).

4. Federal Ministry of Justice (Bundesministerium für Justiz) Section I – Civil Law Division 10 – International Personal and Family Law Museumstraße 7 1070 Vienna Austria

5. The purpose of the recently enacted Section 132a (1) ACCP is to allow for civil processes to be undertaken through remote (or hybrid) hearings.

6. Section 277 ACCP allowed for the virtual taking of evidence in civil procedures in Austria before to the 2023 amendments and even before the COVID-19 epidemic. According to this provision, unless the hearing through mutual legal assistance (Rechtshilfevernehmung) is more expedient taking into account procedural economy or is necessary for special reasons, the court shall conduct the taking of evidence (examination of parties, witnesses, and experts) using technical equipment (i.e., video conferencing). In light of this, the collecting of evidence using technological methods as an alternative to mutual legal aid is mandated by statute for a court to employ Section 277 ACCP.5

7. Preliminary hearings may benefit from distant examination of ‘informed persons’ for the following reasons: Preliminary hearings in Austrian civil cases allow the parties to submit the facts and claims, the court to consider the facts and legal arguments, and the parties to try settlement. At occasion, witnesses will be called to testify at these proceedings. It may be required to hear a knowledgeable person (such as a staff member) as a witness at the preparation hearing if a party who does not have the requisite understanding of the subject matter of the proceedings attends the hearing. 

8. Judgement enforcement and preliminary injunctions are covered under the Austrian Enforcement Act (Exekutionsordung – EO)

9. Regulation (EC) No. 1393/2007 governs the service of legal papers to another EU Member State.

10. To the degree no enforcement measures are available; Section 379 EO

11. Section 381 No. 1 EO),

12.  Article 5(1)(2)

13. Austria proclaims, according to Art.15 (2), that its courts may, under the criteria described in that section, consider the matter even if a certificate of service or delivery of the document has not been obtained (Art.10(b):

After one year has passed from the date of delivery of the judgement, an application for restitutio in integrum is barred by Austrian law under Art.16(3).

14. According to Article 8(2)

15. Articles 11, 19, 24, and 25 address derogatory channels, which include bilateral or multilateral agreements or domestic legislation that allows alternative transmission channels

16. Official records include:

  1. Paperwork from the courts, such as divorce decrees, issued by the district attorney’s office, the clerk of court, or the person tasked with delivering legal papers through process servers.
  2. ‘Notarial’ papers (such as powers of attorney and purchase agreements) and administrative documents (such as birth certificates and marriage licences)
  3. Certifications issued by a government agency attesting to the authenticity of signatures on papers signed by individuals in their individual capacities, such as certificates of registration.

17. The Federal Ministry of European and International Affairs provides further details on the Apostille procedure. 

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