When it comes to clearing a path in a forest to construct and operate an overhead electrical power line, electricity grid operators face various legal issues. In its recent decision on the 380kV Salzburg line, the Supreme Administrative Court considered whether the permitting requirements of the Forestry Act stipulated for grubbing ups must also be applied to path clearances in an EIA permitting procedure by reason of EU law.
With an amendment to the Electricity Industry and Organisation Act passed by Parliament, the network reserve will become part of Austria's congestion management system. The aim of the network reserve is to achieve network stability and security of supply in an efficient and cost-effective manner. Procurement is carried out within the framework of a transparent, non-discriminatory and market-oriented tendering procedure.
Dashcams have become increasingly popular in recent years and a built-in dashcam is now the most sought-after feature among car buyers. Buyers' primary motivation is self-explanatory: recorded footage can be used as evidence in case of an accident. However, whether dashcams are incompatible with privacy and data protection law and thus illegal on Austrian roads is a tricky question.
The Supreme Court recently determined the admissibility of conducting an arbitral hearing by means of a videoconference in the context of challenge proceedings. The court held that even where one party opposes, ordering a remote hearing in arbitration is admissible and does not constitute a reason to challenge the arbitral tribunal. This decision must be regarded as a precedential landmark decision as it appears to be the first decision of any supreme court worldwide to tackle this issue.
The eagerly awaited draft Renewable Energy Expansion Act (EAG) was recently published for evaluation. To help achieve the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement 2015, the draft creates new framework conditions for the expansion of renewable energy in Austria. In view of the high level of funding, the EAG leaves no doubt that the expansion of renewable energies is one of Austria's main objectives for the next 10 years. However, a look at other countries clearly shows that funding alone will not be enough.
In July 2020 a new foreign direct investment (FDI) screening act, the Investment Control Act (ICA), entered into force. The ICA, which largely transposes the requirements of the EU Foreign Investment Screening Regulation, is in line with the general EU trend of tightening or enacting FDI screening instruments, which has been fuelled by concerns of buy-outs of critical European infrastructure by foreign investors due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Supreme Court recently considered whether a final arbitral award on the reimbursement of costs violated Austrian public policy. The claimant had ultimately succeeded in the arbitration conducted under the rules of the International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce. Nevertheless, the cost decision ordered it to reimburse the respondent's costs. The Supreme Court dismissed the claimant's request to set aside the cost decision.
A significant part of Austria's COVID-19 subsidy programme was structured as government guarantees for bridging loans to be granted by banks to provide the economy with liquidity. Now, less than three months after the start of the programme, small and medium-sized enterprises regard this approach as disastrous, with many complaining that the granting of loans has been slow and cumbersome, despite the state guarantee, if a loan has been granted at all.
Section 3 of the Administrative COVID-19 Accompanying Law adapts the requirements for official acts and public communication with authorities to reflect the restricted freedom of movement and contact. This article examines how the revised version of Section 3 affects environmental law procedures (eg, water, environmental impact assessment, waste, construction and conservation).
EU Regulation 2017/460 established a network code on harmonised transmission tariff structures (TAR NC). On 31 January 2019 E-Control – Austria's national regulatory authority – published its consultation document on the implementation of the TAR NC in Austria. This article discusses the subsequent developments.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused employers to use various methods to support employees and maintain business performance. Old and new legal remedies provide for continued payment of salaries (and in some cases also corresponding grants to employers) if performance of work is impossible. This article outlines the routes that employers and employees can take where normal working is impossible, such as sick leave and care leave to look after sick children.
Austria pioneered short-time work schemes. Introduced in 1949 and overhauled in 2008 and 2009 during the financial crisis, the Austrian short-time work scheme has recently been further adapted to the particular needs of the COVID-19 crisis. This article examines who is eligible for the short-time work scheme and what subsidies are available.
In the context of local and personal COVID-19 quarantine measures – and the associated absences of officials and affected persons – a federal law (COVID-19-VwBG) was passed setting out special procedural regulations for administrative authorities, administrative courts, the Supreme Administrative Court and the Constitutional Court. This article discusses the implications for the legal procedures set out in the Environmental Law resulting from the new temporary COVID-19-VwBG.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, telecoms providers must now send mass alerts (eg, regional access prohibitions) via text message on order of the government and provide traffic and location data for the purposes of evaluating whether individuals are complying with quarantine orders. In addition, a number of legislative developments have taken place with respect to data protection. This article outlines these recent changes.
The Supreme Court recently decided to refer certain important questions regarding the Volkswagen emission manipulation scandal to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for a preliminary ruling under Article 267 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. The Supreme Court's assessment of the case and its decision to refer it to the ECJ have revealed other aspects of the scandal and opened the door for a decision by the ECJ which could alter the course of similar pending cases before national courts in Europe.
In an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19, the government has ordered all shops and service providers, except those providing certain vital services, to close to customers from 17 March 2020 until 13 April 2020. The closure of shops may entitle tenants to reduced rent and ancillary costs. However, it does not entitle tenants to terminate their lease for cause. This article sets out guidance for affected tenants and landlords.
An insolvency proceeding was recently opened for the assets of Anglo Austrian AAB AG. This was the last step in a long-lasting dispute between the bank and Austrian and EU regulators, leading to the revocation of the bank's licence. This case is notable because it is the first application of the newly enacted deposit guarantee scheme and was expected to be the first application of the insolvency provisions under the Federal Act on the Recovery and Resolution of Banks.
A landmark Supreme Administrative Court decision concerning Onpro Kit, a medicine for treating chemotherapy-induced leucopenia, provides further clarity on the inclusion of medicines in the Main Association of Austrian Social Security Institutions' reimbursement code. The court examined the special circumstances in which a medicine is inappropriate for use in the course of medical treatment because it is designated for use predominantly in hospital treatments.
The Vienna Regional Court for Civil Matters recently closed the oral hearing in the data protection case brought against Facebook by European privacy group None of Your Business. During the hearing, Facebook's European privacy director faced questions centring on matters of data control regarding the social media platform. The pending decision of the court foreshadows further disputes on Europe's role in setting new standards by which internet activity is to be regulated.
Austria's new coalition government consisting of the People's Party and the Green Party recently published its programme for the legislative period 2020 to 2024. The programme is called Taking Responsibility for Austria and should make Austria a pioneer in climate protection. The Paris Agreement climate targets are to be met at all costs, while the Climate Protection Act should ensure that Austria does not exceed its CO2 budget.