The term administrative jurisdiction describes the authority of the administrative courts to adjudicate in the area of administrative law. The administrative courts decide in public law disputes unrelated to constitutional law, unless the disputes are referred by law to other courts.
Judges at the administrative courts review the legality of administrative acts. They make their decisions independently and are subject only to the law. Citizens are entitled to call on the administrative courts if they feel that a decision by an administrative authority violates their rights. In this way the administrative courts uphold the effective legal protection stipulated in constitutional law. Particular principles are applied in the administrative process.
Delimitation from other courts
There are four other jurisdictions in Germany, in addition to the administrative jurisdiction, namely the general jurisdiction for civil and criminal law, the labour jurisdiction, the social jurisdiction and the fiscal jurisdiction. The legislator has assigned certain administrative disputes to courts of other jurisdictions. Moreover, there are special administrative courts for particular areas of administrative law. They include the Bundeswehr (German armed forces) Disciplinary and Complaints Court, courts for certain professions and the Federal Patent Court.
The Federal Administrative Court cannot be called upon to adjudicate in constitutional disputes. This may involve disputes in which constitutional bodies such as the Bundestag or federal government have different opinions on rights and obligations set forth in the Basic Law (Grundgestz). The Federal Constitutional Court has jurisdiction in these cases.
Progress of cases
The administrative jurisdiction consists essentially of three instances. The administrative courts are the courts of first instance; the higher administrative courts account for the second instance, while the Federal Administrative Court is the court of final resort.