The Procurator General’s Office is the highest instance of public prosecutor’s offices in the Republic of Austria, distinguished by its position outside the prosecution system. Its role is not that of an investigator or prosecutor but of a custodian of the law and of a legal representative of the state with the objective of preserving the integrity of the law beyond the mere administration of criminal justice.
In accordance with its close relationship to the Supreme Court of Justice, the Procurator General’s Office supports the former with its expertise in appellate proceedings concerning nullity appeals and thus contributes to the correct application of the law.
Separately from ordinary appellate proceedings, the Procurator General’s Office brings nullity appeals before the Supreme Court for the review of the correct application of the law in a ruling or measure passed by a criminal court, clarifies open legal questions, and ensures uniformity in the application of the law, thereby contributing to the high quality standards in the administration of criminal justice in fair and unbiased proceedings.
As the highest-level organisational unit among the public prosecutor’s offices, the Procurator General’s Office rules on matters of overlapping or unclear competence of individual public prosecutor’s offices in preliminary criminal proceedings.
In addition, the Procurator General’s office participates in disciplinary proceedings against judges, notaries, lawyers, candidate lawyers and members of the Administrative Court, as well as members or substitute members of the Constitutional Court in the case of impeachment proceedings.
Position within the hierarchy of binding instructions
Pursuant to sec. 2 para. 1 of the Public Prosecutor’s Office Act (StAG), the public prosecutor’s offices are subordinate to the senior public prosecutor’s offices, both of which are in turn (in the same way as the Procurator General’s Office) directly responsible to the Federal Ministry of Justice. Thus, the Procurator General’s Office does not constitute a part of the hierarchy of binding instruction in the sequence Federal Minister – Senior Public Prosecutor – Public Prosecutor (and District Prosecutor). The law does not provide for the Procurator General to exercise control over the senior public prosecutor’s offices or the public prosecutor’s offices, nor does the Procurator General have any power of supervision or devolution over these authorities (unlike the Senior Public Prosecutor’s Office with respect to the public prosecutor’s offices).
Accordingly, the Procurator General does not have jurisdiction to accept complaints pertaining to the public prosecutor’s offices or the senior public prosecutor’s offices. Such complaints should either be addressed directly to the respective office or the Federal Ministry of Justice.