The procedure in administrative courts

In the ad­min­is­tra­tive courts, cases are mainly dealt with in a writ­ten pro­ce­dure, but oral pro­ceed­ings are also fairly com­mon, es­pe­cially in im­mi­gra­tion mat­ters and child pro­tec­tion mat­ters. In ad­di­tion, the ad­min­is­tra­tive court may arrange oral prepa­ra­tions, ju­di­cial ex­am­i­na­tions of the spot and in­spec­tions.

The parties and the decision-making authority shall be obliged to present the information on their own claims and their grounds necessary for the examination of and the decision on the matter. The administrative court shall also ensure that the matter is clarified ex officio to the extent necessary for the impartiality, fairness and nature of the proceedings.

In the administrative court, the aim is to deal with matters in the order in which they are pending. However, certain matters, such as appeals relating to child protection, dismissal of a public official or involuntary treatment of patients, are dealt with urgently.

Matters shall be decided on the presentation in the composition of the decision, normally composed of three members. The referendary may be a judge, a junior judge or a notary. In the preparation of the case, the administrative court shall lead the proceedings and arrange for the matter to be clarified. If, for example, the appeal or application is incomplete, the appellant or the applicant is reserved an opportunity to supplement it. The opinion of the issuing authority will also be obtained and the parties concerned will be heard.

The referendary shall draw up a reasoned proposal for a decision on the matter under consideration to the composition of the court, which shall examine the matter and issue a decision on the matter. Before making a decision, the administrative court will consider all the issues raised and decide which issues are relevant for the decision.

The matter shall be decided at a hearing of the administrative court. In the administrative court, matters can be dealt with in different compositions. More detailed information about them is available here.

If the judges participating in the decision are not unanimous, the decision shall be put to the vote. The administrative court shall always give its decision in writing.

Oral hearings

Oral hearings may be held on the court's own initiative or at the request of a party. The request shall be substantiated by the reasons for the inadequacy of the written procedure and the explanation to be presented at the hearing. The hearing may be omitted if the claim made in the appeal cannot be examined at all or if it is rejected immediately. The oral hearing may also be omitted if it is manifestly unnecessary.

If the case is based on a written evidence of a private nature, the witness shall be heard orally only if, in the view of the court, this is necessary for the investigation of the case.

If necessary, an expert may also be heard in person in a trial on a matter requiring special expertise.

The parties, the representative of the authority making the decision under appeal and other persons whose hearing is deemed necessary shall be summoned to the oral hearing. A party may use an attorney or a legal counsel.

At the oral hearing, the parties and the authorities usually first present to the members of the court their views on the decision being appealed and on the appeal lodged to amend it. In such cases, the members of the court may ask questions. After that, witnesses appointed by the parties or the court shall normally be heard. The parties should notify the court of the witnesses they have designated before the oral hearing. The court shall also arrange for the summons of witnesses, unless it has been agreed that the parties shall arrange for the summons of witnesses.

Decisions relating to the consideration of a case may be made at the oral hearing, but the case is not determined immediately after the oral hearing has ended.

The oral hearing supplements the written trial material. There is therefore no need for the oral hearing to reconsider anything other than written material on which there is disagreement or on which further clarification is sought.

The administrative court may restrict the hearing to, for example, only a part of the matter.

The trial and the procedural documents are, as a rule, public. However, the cases dealt with in the administrative court are often those in which the obligation of professional secrecy is laid down. These include matters relating to social affairs, taxation, mental health or asylum. In addition, oral sessions are mainly held in child protection and asylum matters, which are of a confidential nature. In this case, the oral hearing will be conducted behind closed doors, i.e. without public access to the oral hearing.

Oral preparation may also be arranged to clarify the matter. Oral preparation may be arranged prior to the oral hearing in order to determine which aspects of the case the parties to the proceedings disagree with and what explanation can be presented in support of the claims. No witnesses or experts shall be heard in the oral preparation. After oral preparation, an oral hearing may be held or the matter may be decided directly by written procedure.

Judicial examination of the spot and inspection

In order to obtain further clarification, a judicial examination of the spot or inspection may also be arranged.

The administrative court may submit an examination, i.e. visit the site to examine the circumstances that need to be known in order to resolve the matter. The examinations are particularly carried out in building and environmental matters. The parties and the decision-making authority shall be invited to attend the examination in order to allow them to present their views on the subject of the examination.

Instead of a judicial examination of the spot, the administrative court may also carry out an on-the-spot inspection to verify a fact.

Appealing against a decision of the administrative court

A decision of the administrative court may be appealed to the Supreme Administrative Court (KHO) if the Supreme Administrative Court grants leave to appeal in the matter. In addition, decisions made by some authorities may be appealed directly to the Supreme Administrative Court.

Published 26.11.2020