Tasks of the administrative jurisdiction
All state action must comply with the law. On the one hand, if necessary, a prescribed procedure must be followed (formal legality) and, on the other hand, the content of the state action or omission must also be in accordance with the legal order (substantive legality).
Citizens may seek judicial review of any administrative decision affecting them. The constitutionally guaranteed independence of judges is of particular importance as one of the essential features of the rule of law. It guarantees that proceedings are handled free of instructions and influence.
Legal recourse to the administrative courts is available, for example, in the following areas of law:
- Building and development law
- Police and security law
- Right of assembly
- Trade law
- Civil service law
- Municipal law
- Environmental law (immission control, nature conservation and water law)
- Aliens and asylum law
- School and university law
- Broadcasting and television law
- Road traffic law
- Social law (insofar as the social courts are not responsible)
The Administrative Court decides at first instance on major technical projects, such as the construction, expansion and operation of commercial airports, as well as on planning approval procedures for the construction or modification of federal trunk roads and railway lines and for high-voltage overhead power lines, and on procedures concerning the operation or decommissioning of nuclear power plants.
- Various legal remedies are available to challenge official action or to obtain official action. If an official decision has already been issued, the legal remedy instruction printed there will provide information on which legal remedy is the correct one. As a rule, the administrative courts decide by way of a judgment, which is generally issued after an oral hearing.
- In urgent cases, it is also possible to file an application for interim relief. In these proceedings, which are generally conducted without an oral hearing, decisions are made by order.
- In some areas of law, which are exhaustively enumerated in Art. 15 of the Law on the Implementation of the Code of Administrative Procedure (AGVwGO), the citizen can in principle choose whether to lodge an objection against an official decision and possibly subsequently file a lawsuit or whether to file a lawsuit directly without a prior objection procedure.
In Bavaria, a total of six administrative courts (in Ansbach, Augsburg, Bayreuth, Munich, Regensburg and Würzburg) as well as the Bavarian Administrative Court (in Munich with a branch office in Ansbach) deal with administrative court disputes.
In principle, there is one administrative court for each administrative district, which has its seat at the seat of the district government in each case; only the Regensburg administrative court has jurisdiction (for historical reasons) for the administrative districts of Lower Bavaria and Upper Palatinate.
Which of the six administrative courts has jurisdiction (local jurisdiction) is generally determined by where the defendant authority has acted or where its action/omission primarily has an effect. More detailed information can be found in § 52 of the Administrative Court Code (VwGO) or in the legal remedy instruction of the official notice.
In principle, the so-called collegial principle applies to the composition of the judicial panels. At the administrative courts, disputes are usually decided by three professional judges (one presiding judge and two associate judges) and two honorary judges. Through the participation of several judges, the different experiences and views of the judges flow into the decision-making process. This ensures a balanced judgement that takes all aspects of a case into account. In addition, the Board's decisions - which are more legally significant - often take on the character of "guidelines" for the authorities on how future cases should be handled under the law. Ultimately, this also benefits the citizen dealing with the administration. In cases determined by law, especially in asylum proceedings, single judges decide.
At the Administrative Court, senates composed of three professional judges regularly decide. The Federal Administrative Court also has senates, which usually have five professional judges.
Three-tiered structure and chain of instances
The administrative courts have a three-tier structure. Above the Bavarian administrative courts is the Bavarian Administrative Court. The highest administrative court is the Federal Administrative Court (with its seat in Leipzig).
If a citizen does not wish to accept a decision of an administrative court which affects him or her, an appeal can be lodged against judgments in which the administrative court has allowed an appeal. If the appeal has not been allowed by the administrative court, an application may be made for leave to appeal. An appeal may be considered against decisions.
Special features apply in asylum procedural law: an admission of an appeal by the first instance is not possible here and an appeal against urgent decisions is excluded.
Which legal remedy is the right one in the respective case can be found in the instruction on legal remedies at the end of the respective decision of the administrative court. If an appeal is lodged, the challenged decision does not initially become final.
Administrative court decisions cannot be appealed for an unlimited period of time. After expiry of the time limit for appeal, they become res judicata. The period for lodging an appeal begins with the service of the fully drafted decision.
Proceedings before the administrative courts generally incur costs. A distinction must be made between court costs - court fees and court expenses - and extrajudicial costs - mainly lawyers' fees. The amount of court fees and lawyers' fees is calculated on the basis of the amount in dispute as determined by the court. Some court proceedings, such as asylum or youth welfare proceedings, are free of court costs.
If a party cannot bear the costs of a legal dispute himself, legal aid may be granted. This can also be applied for without legal representation.
The court decides by order whether the requirements are met.
As a rule, the entire costs of a legal dispute are to be borne by the losing side. In many cases, court fees become due when the action is filed and must be advanced by the plaintiff. If the action is successful, the costs are reimbursed.