UPDATE 26/03/2020: The bill effectively suspending most legal actions except in cases of utmost urgency has been passed by Austrian Parliament and its measures are currently in effect. View the bill in German here.
ORIGINAL POST 19/03/2020:
To curb the spread of COVID-19, the Austrian Government has already implemented numerous rigorous measures which have brought much of public life to a standstill. The measures are impacting all walks of life, including the justice system. In an effort to alleviate the situation for both courts and parties to a dispute, the government has yesterday proposed a bill that shall in effect suspend most legal actions. The main proposed measures are:
- Procedural deadlines shall be interrupted until 30 April 2020. This means that deadlines to file a submission etc. cease to run and will start to run entirely anew on 1 May 2020.
- Prescription periods shall be suspended until 30 April 2020, thereby preventing an action from becoming time-barred. Suspension of the statute of limitations has the effect of “hitting the pause button”. Accordingly, on 1 May 2020, the deadline will not restart but merely continue for the remaining period of time.
- While the Austrian courts continue to operate, they are advised to prioritize urgent cases and postpone hearings in all other cases. Where necessary and if possible, hearings shall be conducted via videoconference.
Recognizing the massive economic consequences of COVID-19 on Austrian businesses, the government has also moved to give companies more breathing space by extending the deadline within which a company is obliged to file for bankruptcy from 60 to 120 days after insolvency.
This information is merely preliminary. The measures outlined above are not yet in effect as the bill still has to be passed by parliament. Watch this page for further updates.