COVID-19 Accompanying Law

The Parliament has now decided on concrete accompanying measures for the judicial area in connection with the COVID 19 crisis. The new law has been in force since March 22, 2020 and will bring the following changes:

A) Civil law and civil proceedings

General interruption of deadlines

All procedural deadlines that had not expired on March 22, 2020 will be suspended until April 30, 2020. They will therefore start to run again in full on May 1, 2020. This affects, for example, deadlines for appeals against judgments and decisions, the deadline for lodging an objection to a payment order, but also for the statement made by the court on an application, for submitting an advance payment of costs, etc.


         Service periods (e.g. the payment period specified in a judgment) are not interrupted.

         There is no interruption of time limits in proceedings in which the legality of an upright deprivation or restriction of liberty has to be decided (compulsory hospitalization, restrictions on freedom after the stay at home, the tuberculosis and the epidemic law).

         In the event of imminent danger to life, limb, security or freedom or to avert substantial and irreparable damage, a judge can decide that a time limit should not be interrupted. Then the court must also set a new reasonable period. However, the interest in averting such a danger must outweigh the general interest in containing COVID-19.

         Deadlines for referring to the court are also not interrupted, but only inhibited (see next point).

Time limits for referring to the court

Both the statute of limitations and deadlines for calling on the court are restricted from March 22, 2020 to April 30, 2020. So they will be extended for this period. In addition to limitation periods, this applies, for example, to the time limits for bringing an action for failure to own property, an action for dismissal or dismissal, an action against the decision of a social insurance institution (e.g. care allowance, invalidity or disability pension, compensatory allowance, etc.) or for calling the court in a tenancy case after the decision of the arbitration board.

Limitation of contacts between the court and parties

Verbal negotiations, hearings and the inclusion of applications or submissions on record do not take place as long as the current government measures against the spread of COVID-19 restrict freedom of movement and / or interpersonal contacts. During this time, bailiffs do not carry out enforcement orders in the execution procedure and the parties are not served any judicial matters if they cannot be served in electronic legal transactions.

An exception applies if there is otherwise a danger to life, limb, freedom or security or there is considerable and irreparable damage.

Complete cessation of the activity of a certain court

If there is such an exception, and the court concerned had to completely cease its activities because, for example, all of the personnel are in quarantine and no more representation can be provided, the following solution can be found: The Federal Minister of Justice publishes the cease of operation on At the request of one of the parties, the higher regional court (if this has also ceased its activity: the Supreme Court) has to transfer the case to another court, if such an exception is really existing.

Authorization to issue regulations

The Federal Minister of Justice can also extend the interruption or suspension of deadlines provided in the law until April 30, 2020 by ordinance if necessary and provide further exceptions. In addition, new forms of input can be provided if necessary.

Bankruptcy proceedings

A bankruptcy application must be made within 60 days of the inability to pay. However, if this insolvency occurred due to the current COVID 19 pandemic, this period is extended to 120 days.

Exceptionally, if a debtor is in arrears as part of a restructuring plan and is therefore reminded in writing from March 22, 2020 to April 30, 2020 by the creditor, the claim will not be revived.

Execution proceedings

As of now, an extension of an execution can also be requested due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, if the obliged party has come into an existential economic situation due to the pandemic and this has led to the initiation of the execution.

Upfront alimentation payments

Upfront alimentation payments[1] according to § 3 UVG are to be granted from March 22, 2020 to April 30, 2020 even if the child has not previously submitted a corresponding execution request to the court. In this case, however, it is granted for a maximum of six months.

Antitrust matters

Also for merger registrations filed between March 22, 2020 and April 30, 2020, the deadline for the request for examination begins on May 1, 2020.

B) Criminal cases

In the field of criminal law, the Federal Minister of Justice was authorized for the duration of measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19,

         To arrange for a suspect to be held in custody in another judicial institution without following the otherwise provided procedure (consent of the suspect or, if necessary, hearing of all parties).

         In addition, the Federal Minister of Justice can issue the following orders by ordinance:

o   If a court is no longer accessible, this can be explained as an important reason for transferring jurisdiction to another court.

o   The delivery of documents and summons can be limited to cases in which the accused is in custody.

o   The deadlines for the maximum duration of the investigation (generally three years), for the re-execution of a postponed main hearing (two months) and for the registration and execution of legal remedies can be interrupted for the duration of the ban on entry.

o   It can be ordered that detention hearings (which are now to be carried out via video conference) can be omitted and that further pre-trial detention must be decided without hearing. However, this does not change the prerequisites for an extension of custody and the strict obligation of the court to examine.

o   Visits to custody during pre-trial detention can be restricted to telephone contacts for the duration of bans on entry and other restrictions on traffic with the outside world can be applied.

o   It can be ordered that the times of measures against COVID-19, which affect debtors in their working life (e.g. business closings), are not included in payment deadlines for granted relief in case of diversion and fines.

o   Finally, it can be ruled by ordinance that the times of such measures are not included in the deadlines for the provision of charitable services in the context of a diversion.

C) Penitentiary system

The Federal Minister of Justice was also authorized to issue the following measures by ordinance if necessary:

         It can be ordered that prison sentences do not have to be started.

         It can be determined that the postponement of the imprisonment cannot be revoked even if charitable benefits ("sweating instead of sitting") can no longer be provided.

         A disease of COVID-19 and the mere suspicion of an infection can be explained as reasons for a lack of ability to start imprisonment.

         Prison may be postponed for the duration of the measures against the spread of COVID-19, if the convicted person is not particularly dangerous and the prison sentence does not exceed three years.

         Also in the area of ​​criminal detention, visits can be limited to telephone contacts and other restrictions on traffic with the outside world can be provided.

         The interruption of the period for the reappearance of punishment after interruption of execution and exit as well as the execution of measures after interruption can be ordered.

         Hearings on conditional release may request video conferencing.

         Finally, it can be determined that the detention in the electronically monitored house arrest (“shackle”) cannot be revoked if it is not possible to perform work due to the measures against the spread of COVID-19.

[1] In Austria, the President of the Appeal Court is granting upfront alimentation in cases the debtor is unable to pay for.