Law and Compliance in Austria

Overview by

Business Contract

General Observation
The role and responsibility of the vendor (including methods of quality control and packaging details) should be clearly mentioned.
Law Applicable to the Contract
The Convention on the Law Applicable to Contractual Obligations, Rome 1980 ( EVÜ) applies to contractual obligations involving a choice between the laws of different countries.
Advisable Incoterms
Choose CIF or FOB.
Language of Domestic Contract
Other Laws Which Can Be Used in Domestic Contracts
The Convention on the Law Applicable to Contractual Obligations, Rome 1980 ( EVÜ) applies to contractual obligations involving a choice between the laws of different countries.

Return to top

Legal Framework of Business

Equity of Judgments

Independence of Justice
The judiciary is independent in Austria.
Equal Treatment of Nationals and Foreigners
Foreign nationals in Austria enjoy treatment at par with the natives from the country's judicial system, including the commercial disputes.
The Language of Justice
The judicial language is German which is accepted nationwide, although some of the states also have their own additional official languages.
Recourse to an Interpreter
Legal Similarities
The Austrian laws are based on the constitution of 1920 (revised in 1929 and reinstated in 1945); originating from Roman laws and judicial reviews of legislative acts by the Constitutional Court.
Austria being a member of the European Union, the laws in the country need to comply with the conditions of the Community legislation. Austria accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction.

The Different Legal Codes

Public Law (Constitutional law) This law has the highest status in the Austrian legal hierarchy. It mainly consists of the fundamental principles mentioned in the Austrian Constitution. However after Austria's entry into the EU on January 1 1995, the national constitution required a complete alteration. Austrian constitutional law was thus joined with EU law as the most fundamental source of law (Dual-constitution). As a result the EU law now takes precedence over domestic Austrian law and the national constitution, but is subordinate to the fundamental principles of the constitution.
Private Law The fundamental principles of the Austrian Private Law originate from the Roman law. The law is divided in to general private law applicable to all persons, and specialised forms of civil law, which is applicable only to certain categories, such as commercial law for businessmen or employment law for employers and employees. The major part of what is considered general private law is regulated in a comprehensive private law code called the Allgemeine Buergerliche Gesetzbuch (ABGB).
Criminal Law It is a branch of public law that defines criminal acts and sets out the respective criminal penalties.   It is regulated by the Austrian Criminal Law (StGB). The law must, however, comply with the provisions of the constitutional laws which allocate the criminal justice to the courts.
Checking National Laws Online
Legal Information System of the Republic of Austria (RIS) 
Other Useful Resources
Austrian Parliament
Austrian Constitutional Court
Rechtsfreund, Law in Austria
Justline, Laws online
Country Guides
Lex Mundi guide

Find Legal Experts in Austria on

The Jurisdictions

District Courts There are 140 district courts in the country which act as courts of first instance.
Regional or Land Courts There are 20 regional or Land Courts in Austria which act as courts of first instance in more important cases and as appeal courts vis-à-vis the district courts.
Courts of Appeals There are 4 courts of appeals which act as courts of second instance and as appeal courts vis-à-vis the regional courts.
Supreme Court There is pnly one supreme court which acts as court of third instance. It is the highest court of appeal for all civil and criminal matters.

Court Officials

Judges are civil servants appointed by the Federal President. Only Austrian nationals can be appointed as judges. For appointment as a judge, one should have the basic law degree, should have around four years of practicing experience in various courts and should also pass the ‘judicial office examination’.
Public prosecutors
Public prosecutors are also appointed by the Federal President. Only those who satisfy the requirements for appointment as a judge and who have practised for at least one year as a judge at a court or as a public prosecutor can be appointed as a public prosecutor. A further requirement for being appointed is to be an Austrian national.

The criminal and civil responsibility of public prosecutors is regulated in the same way as in the case of the judges.

Registrars are specially trained court officials to whom the handling of specifically circumscribed business in civil matters at first instance has been transferred on the basis of the Austrian Federal Constitutional Act (Section 87(a) B-VG) and the Austrian Registrars Act (Rechtspflegergesetz). In this function, the registrars are subordinate only to the judge who is their respective line manager and are bound only by that judge’s instructions, which in practice are given extremely rarely.


For being appointed as a registrar, the relevant person must work in the court office for at least two years and must pass the court office examination intended for court office employees and as the specialist service examination.

Attorneys at law
No official appointment is required to practise as an attorney at law in Austria. Any person wishing to enter the profession of attorney at law must spend at least nine months at court as a legal trainee (court practice) and three years at the office of an Austrian attorney at law as a candidate attorney at law. In total, it is necessary to prove five years’ legal professional work and that the attorney at law examination has been passed.The attorney at law examination can be taken after practical employment for three years, of which at least nine months are spent at a court and at least two years at the office of an attorney at law.
Find more on about Legal and Compliance Issues in Austria.

Any Comments About This Content? Report It to Us.

Read more See less
Experts Views (2)
Post your content


Post content about Law and Compliance in Austria and you will be listed here to receive requests for offers.

Contact our expert contributors
  • How2Go Consultoría de...

    Internationalization Consulting, Brazil

  • U.S. Commercial Service

    US GovTrade Promotion, the United States