Tasks of the administrative jurisdiction

The judiciary in Germany is organized in various judicial branches. One of the five judicial branches is the administrative judiciary. Its task is to ensure that citizens have effective legal protection against government action. It has jurisdiction when citizens and the state are faced with a difference of opinion under public law.

The administrative courts are thus an essential pillar of the rule of law. In accordance with the principle of judicial independence, judges are bound by the law alone when making their decisions. This guarantees that judicial proceedings cannot be interfered with by executive instructions or other forms of influence.

Areas of law, procedure, instances

For example, the administrative courts have jurisdiction in the following areas of law:

  • Aliens and asylum law
  • Municipal law
  • Public service law
  • Regulatory law (construction, police, security, road traffic and assembly law)
  • School and university law
  • Environmental law (immission control, nature conservation and water law)

There are many types of court proceedings, e.g. classic lawsuits, but also proceedings through which one can apply for provisional legal protection and in many cases legal remedies if one does not agree with the decision of an administrative court. There are procedural constellations in which the citizen opposes an administrative intervention (e.g. withdrawal of a restaurant license), but also proceedings in which the citizen requests a service that the administration refuses to provide (e.g. a building permit).

The administrative courts (1st level) are in most cases the 1st instance, i.e. the first court to address a legal dispute. The Higher Administrative Court of Bavaria (2nd level) is generally responsible as the 2nd instance for appeals if parties to the proceedings do not agree with the decision of the administrative court.

There are exceptions to this basic principle provided for by law. For example, in cases where development plans or major technical infrastructure projects are challenged, the Higher Administrative Court of Bavaria is the 1st instance.