On 28.04.2023, the ministerial legislative proposal amending the General Administrative Procedure Act (AVG), the Administrative Penal Act (VStG) and the Administrative Court Procedure Act (VwGVG) was submitted to the National Council.
The aim of the legislative proposal is to
- to harmonise the deadlines for submissions via electronic legal communication (eRV) with that via postal channel and
- to be able to use video conference tools for hearings on a permanent basis in the future.
The options for conducting hearings and other official acts using video conference tools established due to the COVID-19 regulations have proven their worth. Their use is now to be enabled on a permanent basis (regardless of the epidemic situation).
To this end, the draft essentially proposes the following:
- In future, the deadline shall no longer include the period from the transmission of a submission to the authority via electronic legal communication (eRV) until its receipt by the authority. This will bring it into line with submissions to authorities by post.
- It shall be possible to conduct hearings and other official acts using technical equipment for word and image transmission (video conference tools), except if personal appearance is more expedient for reasons of procedural economy or necessary for special reasons.
In future, the notice of summons shall indicate whether a personal appearance or participation in a hearing/interrogation by video conference is intended. The type of participation can also be left to the discretion of the person.
In administrative criminal proceedings, the court may only order the accused to participate in a hearing by means of video conference tools if he/she has renounced to participate in person. Witnesses and participants are to be summoned in person, if possible, unless the accused has renounced this.
It remains to be seen whether this legislative proposal will be enacted.