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The Austrian Legal System and Laws: a Brief Overview
by Johannes Oehlboeck and Immanuel Gerstner
published on GlobaLex, June 2005 (GlobaLex is an electronic legal publication dedicated to international and foreign law research. Published by the Hauser Global Law School Program at NYU School of Law)


1. Introduction
2. Austrian Legal System
3. Legal Resources

4. Further Information

3. Legal Resources

3.1 Online

3.1.1 The Legal Information System of the Republic of Austria (RIS)

The Legal Information System of the Republic of Austria (RIS) is a computer-assisted information system on Austrian law, which is coordinated and operated by the Austrian Federal Chancellery. Its beginnings date back to 1983 when the essential features of the system were designed. After federal legislation had been incorporated into the system, decisions of the supreme courts started to be included. A section of the Legal Information System offers a selection of important Austrian laws in English translation.
The Legal Information System contains the following databases: Federal Law Gazette (Bundesgesetzblatt), Draft bill, Government bill, Federal law, State Law Gazette, Municipal law, European Community Law, Case-law documentations, Instruction edicts, Instruction edicts of the Federal Ministry of Justice, and Austrian laws in English.
The federal law database covers 99% of Austrian federal law. Amendments are incorporated as soon as they are promulgated so that the database always contains the applicable version of a document (one document: 1 section or 1 article or 1 annex). In addition to the applicable version, many norms also offer the opportunity to access previous versions, making it possible for the user to reconstruct the development of the regulation.
As a result of the cooperation with the office of the State (regional) government, the State Law Gazette contains all issues of the State Law Gazette in their original versions of the Austrian Provinces. The Municipal law database contains the laws of some Austrian municipalities. The database also contains selected municipal laws of Austrian Provinces.
The European Community Law Database (CELEX) contains the European Community law. The Austrian Federal Chancellery receives the data from The Office for Official Publications of the European Communities. The CELEX database is made up of the following sections: treaties, external relations, secondary legislation, complementary legislation, preparatory works, case law, national measures, parliamentary questions, consolidated texts (at present time there are no documents available), official journals (C-series), and EFTA documents.
Case-law is now a third key component of the Legal Information System. The databases contain both the legal principles and the full text of the rulings. The database contains the case-law of the Constitutional Court (nearly all rulings since 1980), the Administrative Court (comprises nearly all its decisions since 1990; substantial rulings are also available from previous years), of the Supreme Court (decisions of civil and criminal law), the Independent Administrative Tribunals (selected rulings since 1991), the Independent Federal Asylum Board (selected rulings since 1998), the Environmental Senate, the Procurement Review Authorities (rulings of the Federal Public Procurement Review Authority, the Federal Public Procurement Arbitration Body since 1997 and the Procurement Review Authorities of Salzburg and Vienna since 2004), the Data Protection Commission, the Federal Communications Board, the Appeals Tribunal and Supreme Disciplinary Commission (case-law on disciplinary matters and matters pertaining to employee transfers in the Federal Government since 1999) and the Supervisory Tribunal for Employees' Representation (case law on matters of employees' representation).

3.1.2 Further Online Resources

  • Austrian Parliament - official drafts and information ("Materialien") from the legislative process

  • Austrian Constitutional Court

  • Austrian Administrative Court

  • Telekom-Control Commission, KommAustria and RTR-GmbH
    Austrian Regulatory Authority for Broadcasting and Telecommunications

  • Federal Ministry of Transport, Innovation and Technology

  • Data Protection Commission

  • Federal Chancellery

  • - Guide for Austrian authorities, offices and institutions, parts in English

  • - This website provides information on all parts of Austrian law, more than 20 notes on legal issues and a selection of model contracts. It offers various calculation programs such as the calculation of attorney and notary fees and the calculation of the sizeable exempt amounts and introduces the most important recent law books. In addition, the website provides extensive information on Austrian Law in English (the latest books on Austrian law in English are listed on

  • SWK Online - SWK Online is the electronic edition of the leading professional magazine for Austrian Tax Law and Business Law. This magazine is published three times monthly and informs entrepreneurs, consultants, employees of tax authorities and other civil services, as well as employees in financial accounting, about current legal questions, changes in legislation and higher-court jurisdiction in the aforementioned legal field.  It is independent and only indebted to its readership. SWK online includes professional articles that can be easily put into practice in business affairs. The authors are economic trustees, experts from federal ministries and universities, tax authorities as well as managers in private industry.

  • Rechtsdatenbank - With the creation of the Legal Database in 1986, the first milestone for electronic legal information in Austria was laid. The RDB, working together with every Austrian legal publisher, offers the largest selection of legal information currently available in database form. As an independent organisation, the RDB is able to bring together in one single platform professional journals from 27 different publishers together with all information currently contained in the RIS database. RDB subscribers are able to search in Austria's most comprehensive on-line database of court practice, proceedings and literature. Every user of the RDB portal not only has access to the more than 1.9 million documents that comprise the central RBD database, but also access to 14 additional partner databases. The documents on the RDB database sometimes extend as far back as 1946.

  • Arge Daten - Austrian Society for Data Protection - Information about data protection and data security in Austria

  • - ASoKonline is the internet version of the "Arbeits- und Sozialrechtskartei", one of Austria's leading journals regarding Labour and Social Security Law issues. The online database offers all articles and court decisions published in the aforementioned journal, beginning with the January 1998 issue until present, a collection of Austrian labour laws, as well as regular news on the subject to subscribers.

  • - Legal problems of the internet, many decisions (IT-law)

  • Austrian Bar Association

  • Information Technology-law - Publications on internet and telecommunication law

  • Federal Competition Authority - Includes information on Austrian Merger Notification and Procedure

  • - Legal bookshop online

  • - Portal for comprehensive legal information and e-law services (e.g.: cadastral register, commercial register, electronic access records, trade register, data of the registry office); further information found here.

  • - Database with information about  all Austrian authorities

  • - The database "Recht Online" (Law Online) provides access to legal information (civil law, labour law, business law, criminal law and tax law)

3.2 Offline

3.2.1 Printed Legal Resources (in English)

3.2.2 Libraries

3.2.3 Legal Publishers


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