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Austria

Civil legal expert examination in Austria

Extract from the final Eurexpertise report

All rights reserved EEEI © 2012

Contributing correspondent :
Irmgard GRISS, First president of the Supreme Court of Austria

Authors :
Béatrice DESHAYES, Avocat & Rechtsanwältin - Partner HW&H
Philippe JACQUEMIN, Expert, EEEI Vice-President

Other administrative order  :
NO

It seems that independent authorities and not legal authorities control administrative decisions and their transformation into genuine jurisdictions is currently being discussed.

I. Procedural rules in calling for an expert examination

I. 1) On the initiative of

The litigants conduct the trial. The plaintiff, who must prove the facts to underwrite his request, can ask for an expert on certain technical matters to be appointed, but the judge can also unilaterally make this decision.

I.2) Mandatory expert examinations

Yes in certain cases

I. 3) Decision-maker

The judge (or judges in the case of a chamber)

I. 4) Is a pre-trial expert examination possible ?

There is also a very quick expert examination before any trial, if requested, in the case of a possible loss of evidence. In that case, the expert does not look for causes but merely offers observations. Third-party joinders are not allowed.

II. Choice and appointment of the expert(s)

II. 1) Register

Legal experts are natural persons publically appointed by the district court judges and registered with the courts.

This register is available on the Justice Department’s website : http://www.sdgliste.justiz.gv.at/ .

Registering is valid for five years and renewable once.

The expert must first be accredited and take an oath.

In his written application, the candidate must prove :

  • he has solid knowledge of the regulations in place which regulate the proceedings in front of the various jurisdictions, and of the legal expert’s code of ethics. He must also prove he has knowledge relevant to drawing up expert examinations.
  • if possible, that he has been an active member of his profession for ten years before registering in his specialty or a sister specialty. Five years of activity is enough if the candidate has been through higher education or similar.
  • he has the ability to carry out legal acts.
  • he is physically and mentally fit.
  • his nationality is Austrian or that of a member state of the European Union and European Economic Area.
  • his usual place of residence is in the jurisdiction of the district court he wishes to register with.
  • he has taken out a third-party liability insurance policy.

To verify the candidate’s abilities, a commission carries out an examination. This examination is usually oral, but the commission may request a probationary expert examination if it deems it necessary.

II. b) Oath

Permanent.

II. 3) Choice of the Expert

The choice of the expert is at the judge’s discretion. The litigants can suggest an expert to the judge but the judge is not bound by this choice.

The public expert registered with the court has priority.

II. 4) Participation by the parties in the appointment process

Yes, if the litigants jointly suggest a name, the judge will appoint this expert.

II. 5) Nationality

EU/EEA

II. 6) Recusal by the litigant parties

The expert can be recused for the same reasons as a judge. This is notably the case if the expert has a personal interest in the litigation, if he is one of the litigants or has ties with one.

II. 7) Expert’s withdrawal (refusal of a mission)

The expert can ask the court to be withdrawn if he believes there is a danger of bias.

II. 8) Possibility of adding another expert

By the judge

II. 9) Possibility of being assisted by a colleague

YES

III. Definition of the expert’s mission

III. 1) Who determines the mission ?

The judge, taking into account the litigant’s observations, determines the expert’s missions and sets a very strict deadline. The parties must cooperate with the expert and provide him with additional information if needed. If they do not comply with the expert’s requests, the judge can intervene by setting a deadline to the litigants for them to hand over the missing elements.

The legal expert is usually appointed with a full mission, except when it is a pre-trial expert examination : in that case, the mission is confined to observations

III. 2) Type of mission

Summary proceedings : simple observations. In depth : any kind of mission.

IV. Progress of the expert’s mission

IV. 1) Judge supervision

The expert must follow the mandate issued by the judge.

IV. 2) Form of contradictory procedure

He cannot request the cooperation of the litigants without first applying for it to the judge.

The litigants may not comment on the expert examination before it has been submitted to the court. They can comment the written report and ask for the expert to be called in for a hearing during which they may ask him.

IV. 3) Participation in the hearing

Yes, mandatory, if requested by the judge or the litigants.

But if an oral participation is not requested by any party, the report may simply be written.

V. Close of the expert examination

V. 1) Does conciliation put an end to the expert’s mission ?

No, not automatically, the judge must close the expert’s mission if the litigants tell him the litigation is over.

V. 2) Form imposed on the report

The conclusions are presented in a written form and must be argued.

The expert must mention the litigants’ observations inasmuch as they are relevant to fulfilling his mission. He must enclose the litigants’ account.

V. 3) Does the report put an end to the expert’s mission ?

If the judge or the parties request it, the expert must present his conclusions orally during a hearing and can be questioned.

V. 4) Is there an imposed structure for the report ?

NO, but the expert must give detailed descriptions of the various stages of his investigations and the manner in which he reached his conclusions.

He must reply to the diverging questions or opinions expressed by the parties during the expert examination, insofar as they are relevant.

He must attach to his report the elements of evidence and documents handed to him by the litigants or by third parties.

V. 5) Is a preliminary report mandatory ?

NO

V. 6) Is the judge bound by the expert’s conclusions ?

Austrian civil proceedings are regulated by the free sifting of evidence. The judge is not bound by the expert’s opinion but must argue the reasons for which he has chosen (or not) to base his decision on the expert examination.

If the legal expert examination goes against a private expert examination, the legal expert must argue his different opinion.

V. 7) Possibility of a second opinion

YES

VI. Funding for the expert examination

VI. 1) Security Payment

The expert’s fees are expenses ; they are paid in advance by the litigant requesting the expert examination and must be paid by the litigant who loses the trial.

VI. 2) Determining the amount of payment due

By the judge

VI. 3) Possibility of additional payment

YES

VI. 4) Determining fees and costs

The legal expert’s fees are set by §§ 24 to 42 of the Gebührenanspruchsgesetz von 1975 (GebAG-

1975 Austrian taxation bill). The judge sets the fees according to the time spent, the amount of work carried out, as well as market prices in the expert’s professional field.

VI. 5) Possibility of contesting the fees

YES

VII. Expert liability within proceedings

VII. 1) Are there any laws governing expert examinations ?

YES

VII. 2) Expert liability

If, due to an error made by the expert, the expert examination is flawed, he is liable to the litigants according to civil law (§§ 1299, 1300 Austrian civil law - ABGB). Third-party liability is exceptional.

Moreover, article § 121 StGB lays out the criminal punishment in case the expert violates confidentiality.

If the expert refuses to hand in an expert examination, he will be replaced and is liable for the costs incurred by his refusal. The expert can be stricken from the list of legal experts if he hands in a “bad” expert examination more than once.

VII. 3) Mandatory insurance for the expert

YES

VIII. The expert’s status

The expert is an occasional partner with the court. He only intervenes when the judge does not have sufficient knowledge to make his decision. The expert then helps him better understand certain technical or specific aspects of the case. Moreover, he contributes to observing the facts.

As an occasional partner with the judge, the expert must be thorough, loyal, unbiased and impartial. He must strictly follow the proceedings regulations. The expert is bound by professional secrecy.

VIII. 1) Existence of selection criteria (accreditation)

YES

VIII. 2) Classification of skills

Unofficial framework : http://www.sachverstaendige.at/nome... .

VIII. 3) Required qualifications

Knowledge assessment by a commission made of judges and experts, appointment by the president of the court of appeals.

VIII. 4) Grant of accreditation

By the justice department.

VIII. 5) Possibility of accrediting a legal person

NO

VIII. 6) Validity period for the accreditation

5 years.

VIII. 7) Regular assessment tests

Every ten years.

VIII. 8) Supervision of the expert’s mission

For the 10 year assessment, the expert must submit an activity report.

To this end he must archive all his reports and appended documents for a 7-year period.

VIII. 9) Expert’s activity report

Yes, during the regular renewal phase.

VIII. 10) Code of ethics

YES

VIII. 11) Good practice

NO

VIII. 12) Possibility of penalties

YES

VIII. 13) Laws governing the expert’s status

YES

IX. Bibliography

Books

FASCHING/KONECNY, Kommentar zu den Zivilprozessgesetzen, Manz, 2nd edition, 2000 2008.

RECHBERGER, Kommentar zur ZPO, Springer, 3rd edition, 2006.

FUCHS/RATZ, Wiener Kommentar zur Strafprozessordnung, Manz.

FABRIZY, Die österreichische Strafprozessordnung, Manz, 10th edition, 2008.

KRAMMER/SCHMIDT, Sachverständigen- und Dolmetschergesetz, Gebührenanspruchsgesetz, Manz, 3rd edition, 2008.

Articles and monographs concerning civil proceedings :

BARFUSS, Verfahrens- und Kostenersatzfragen vorprozessualer Gutachten, in AICHER/FUNK, Der Sachverständige im Wirtschaftsleben (1990) 81 ; BÖHM-HILLER, Gedanken zur freien richterlichen Beweiswürdigung und den Aufgaben eines Sachverständigen, RZ 1983, 87 ; DAVY, Sachverständigenbeweis und Fairness des Verfahrens, ZfV 1986, 310 ; DEIXLER-HÜBNER, Fortschreitender Einsatz von Sachverständigen. Notwendigkeit oder Gefahr ? RZ 1992, 251, 276 ; DELLE-KARTH, Die Mangelhaftigkeit des Verfahrens im Berufungssystem des österreichischen Zivilprozessrechts, ÖJZ 1993, 10, 50 ; DELLISCH, Der Sachverständige im Schiunfallprozeß nach österreichischem Recht, AnwBl 1970, 275 ; DIENST, Was erwarten sich Richter und Justizverwaltung vom Sachverständigen ? SV 1984/1, 2 ; DOLINAR, Der Sachverständigenbeweis eine rechtsvergleichende Analyse, Festschrift Sprung (2001) 117 ; EDLBACHER, Die Haftung des gerichtlichen Sachverständigen ; Sach 1978/4, 9 ; FASCHING, Die Ermittlung von Tatsachen durch den Sachverständigen im Zivilprozeß, Festschrift Matscher (1993) 97 ; FASCHING, Sachverständiger und Richter, Sach 1977/1, 16 ; FUNK, Die Aufgaben des Sachverständigen im Rahmen rechtlicher Entscheidungen Verfassungsfragen der Sachverständigentätigkeit, in AICHER/FUNK, DerSachverständige im Wirtschaftsleben (1990) 1 ; HARRER, Die zivilrechtliche Haftung des Sachverständigen, in AICHER/FUNK, Der Sachverständige im Wirtschaftsleben (1990) 177 ; HASLINGER, Fachüberschreitung durch Gerichtssachverständige ? AnwBl 1997, 242 ; HÜBEL, Materielle und prozessuale Stellung des Gutachters, Stb 1978/11, 1 ; JELINEK, Der Sachverständige im Zivilprozeß, in AICHER/FUNK, Der Sachverständige im Wirtschaftsleben (1990) 45 ; JESSNITZER/FRIELING, Der gerichtliche Sachverständige (1992) ; KRAMMER, Die „Allmacht“ des Sachverständigen. Überlegungen zur Unabhängigkeit und Kontrolle der Sachverständigentätigkeit, in Schriftenreihe Niederösterreichische Juristische Gesellschaft, Heft 54 (1990) ; KRAMMER, Aktuelle Fragen des Gebührenrechts (GebAG 1975), Sach 1983/3, 3 ; KRAMMER, Allgemeine Pflicht zur Erstattung von Gerichtsgutachten für alle Fachleute ? Sach 1995, 45 ; LACKNER, Die prozessuale Relevanz außerprozessualer Sachverständigengutachten, ÖJZ 1983, 518 ; MARKEL, Die Stellung des Sachverständigen im gerichtlichen Verfahren, Sach 1985/1, 8 ; MATSCHER, Der Beweis durch Demoskopie im österreichischen Zivilprozeß, ÖBl 1970, 90 ; NICKLISCH, Der technische Sachverständige im Prozess (Generalbericht), in HABSCHEID, Effektiver Rechtsschutz und verfassungsmäßige Ordnung, Generalberichte zum VII. Internationalen Kongreß für Prozeßrecht in Würzburg 1983 (1983) 291 ; RABOFSKY, Zur Aufgabe des Sachverständigen und der Rechtsprechung bei Lawinenunfällen, ZVR 1981, 193 ; REITERER, Landesbericht Österreich, in NICKLISCH, Der technische Sachverständige im Prozeß. Landesberichte und Generalbericht, VII. Internationaler Kongreß für Prozeßrecht in Würzburg 1983 (1984) 127 ; RÜFFLER, Der Sachverständige im Zivilprozeß (1995) ; SCHILCHER, Dogmatische und pragmatische Überlegungen zur Haftung der Gerichtssachverständigen, Festschrift Jelinek (2002) 241 ; SCHIMA, Schriftgutachten kein allein ausreichendes Beweismittel ? Sach 1979/4, 4 ; SCHUMACHER, Das Fachwissen des Richters, ÖJZ 1999, 132 ; SORGO, Über Probleme der serologischen Gutachten im Vaterschaftsprozeß, RZ 1970, 90 ; STEININGER, Der Sachverständige in der Gerichtsbarkeit, Sach 1981/3, 9 ; WELSER, Die Haftung für Rat, Auskunft und Gutachten (1983) ; ZECHNER, Der gerichtliche Sachverständige Privater oder Beweisorgan im Sinne des § 1 Abs 2 AHG ? JBl 1986, 415.

Articles and monographs concerning remuneration of experts :

BLEUTGE, Die Hilfskräfte des Sachverständigen Mitarbeiter ohne Verantwortung ? NJW 1985, 1185 ; FEIL, Gebührenanspruchsgesetz, 5. Aufl. (2001) ; KRAMMER, Anmerkungen zu 1 Ob 593/90 und 2 Ob 73/90 Überlegungen zum anzuwendenden Verfahrensrecht bei der Bestimmung von

Sachverständigengebühren, SV 1991/2, 26 ; KRAMMER, Das Entgelt bei Privatgutachten, SV 1997/3, 9 ; KRAMMER, Aktuelle Fragen zum Gebührenrecht (GebAG 1975), SV 1983/3, 2 ; KRAMMER, Gebühr für die Teilnahme an einer im Auftrag des Gerichtes durchgeführten Ermittlung (§ 35 Abs 1 GebAG 1975), SV 1978/2, 11 ; KRAMMER, Das Gebührenanspruchsgesetz Abgrenzung der Aufgaben Buchhaltung Revisor, Der Rechtspfleger 1993/3, 51 ; KRAMMER, Zur Gebührenanspruchsgesetz-Novelle 1995, SV 1995/3, 9 ; KRAMMER, Einige Gedanken zur Auslegung des Gebührenanspruchsgesetzes, SV 1992/1, 21 ; KRAMMER, Neuerungen im Gebührenanspruchsrecht, SV 1989/3, 2 ; KRAMMER, Neues zum Gebührenanspruchsgesetz, SV 1986/4, 7 ; KRAMMER, Ausgewählte Probleme zum Sachverständigengebührenrecht, SV 1985/3, 3 ; KRAMMER, Einige Probleme des Sachverständigengebührenrechts, SV 1984/3, 15 22 und 24 ; KRAMMER, Sachverständigengebührenbestimmung, SV 2001/1, 2 ; KRAMMER, Verletzung des Parteiengehörs nach § 39 Abs 1 Satz 4 GebAG 1975 : Nichtigkeitsgrund oder Verfahrensmangel Ein Beitrag zur Frage der im Gebührenbestimmungsverfahren anzuwendenden Verfahrensvorschriften, SV 1985/4, 3 ; KRAMMER, Neue Wege im Sachverständigengebührenrecht, SV 1994/2, 2 ; KRAMMER, Zeugengebühren Sachverständigengebühren, in EMBERGER/ZAHRL/DIEMATH/GRABNER, Das ärztliche Gutachten, 4. Aufl, (2002) ; ROLLWAGEN, Gebührenanspruchsgesetz und Wohl der Allgemeinheit, SV 1991/4, 2 ; SPORN, Das Rechtsverhältnis des Sachverständigen zum Auftraggeber Honorarfragen, in AICHER/FUNK, Der Sachverständige im Wirtschaftsleben (1990) ; WISLEITNER, Kostenfragen beim Sachverständigenbeweis im Verfahren vor den Zivilgerichten, ÖJZ 1992, 41.

Legal journal :

Sachverständige, published quarterly by the HAUPTVERBAND DER ALLGEMEIN BEEIDETEN UND GERICHTLICH ZERTIFIZIERTEN SACHVERSTÄNDIGEN ÖSTERREICHS

www.sachverstaendige.at ; www.gerichts-sv.at

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Mailing address  : EEEI Jean-Raymond LEMAIRE, 38, rue de Villiers - 92532 Levallois-Perret cedex - France Tel : +33(0)1 41 49 07 60 - Fax : +33(0)1 41 49 02 89