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 system (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 in the 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 railroad lines and for high-voltage overhead lines, and on procedures relating to the operation or decommissioning of nuclear power plants.
- Various legal remedies are available to contest official action or to obtain official action. If an official decision has already been issued, the legal remedy instructions printed there provide information on which is the correct legal remedy. 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 provisional legal protection. In these proceedings, which are generally conducted without an oral hearing, decisions are made by way of a ruling.
- In some areas of law, which are exhaustively listed in Art. 12 of the Law on the Implementation of the Administrative Court Code (AGVwGO), the citizen can generally choose whether to file 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) and the Bavarian Administrative Court (in Munich with a branch office in Ansbach) deal with administrative 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 the seat of the authority issuing the administrative act, the place of residence of the person complained against or the seat of the defendant. Special rules exist, among other things, for civil servants, for disputes under the Asylum Act, local rights and for real estate matters. More detailed information can be found in Section 52 of the Administrative Court Rules (VwGO) or in the instructions on appealing the official decision.
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 that the judges' decisions are balanced and take all aspects of a case into account. In addition, the chamber's decisions - which are more significant from a legal point of view - often take on the character of "guidelines" for the authorities on how future cases should be handled in accordance with the law. Ultimately, this also benefits the citizen who has to deal with the administration. In cases determined by law, especially in asylum proceedings, single judges decide.
At the Administrative Court, decisions are regularly made by senates consisting of three professional judges. 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 (based in Leipzig).
If a citizen does not wish to accept a decision of an administrative court that 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 the appeal by the first instance is not possible here and the appeal against urgent decisions is excluded.
Which legal remedy is the correct one in each 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 - primarily attorney's fees. The amount of court fees and attorney's 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 must 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.