For this focus, Professor Hannes Tretter (University of Vienna, retired) is available to the law firm as external legal advisor, Co-founder and from 1992-2019 Co-director of the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Human Rights (BIM) and Director of the Straniak Academy for Democracy and Human Rights.
Since one of the firm’s main focuses is on the area of fundamental and human rights, all cases taken on by the firm are examined for their relevance to fundamental and human rights, regardless of the procedural stage of the case. This is because in all instances, courts and administrative authorities have to apply the basic and human rights guaranteed by Austrian constitutional law within the scope of their competences in order to interpret the legal provisions to be applied in the respective proceedings in conformity with the Constitution. In addition, courts also have the duty, if they have doubts, to refer the matter to the Constitutional Court for review of the constitutional conformity of the legal provisions to be applied by them. The law firm will ensure that these obligations are observed in all cases assigned to it.
For addressees of final administrative decisions by administrative authorities, the law firm also assumes the task of challenging these decisions at the Constitutional Court (VfGH) and, if necessary, requesting the repeal of legal provisions insofar as they are affected by them in their constitutionally guaranteed fundamental and human rights. Parties also have the right to challenge legal provisions before the Constitutional Court on the grounds of unconstitutionality in cases decided by ordinary courts of first instance, insofar as appeals have been lodged against these decisions.
The firm therefore ensures that possible violations of fundamental and human rights in domestic proceedings are asserted in all instances, as this is an essential prerequisite for the admissibility of applications to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) for violations of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) in any subsequent complaints.
It is equally important to examine whether rights of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights may have been violated in domestic proceedings in which EU law is to be applied and to bring these concerns to the attention of the Austrian court. The Austrian court is obliged to refer such cases to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in order to decide in a preliminary ruling procedure on questions of interpretation of the applicable EU law and its possible violation of EU primary law (the “constitution” of the EU), of which the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights is one.
In addition, the firm has set itself the goal of initiating strategic litigation in cases of massive violations of basic and human rights of disadvantaged or endangered groups in order to enable or facilitate access to justice for those affected.