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Court Vacations: Deadlines and Exceptions

Ah, court vacations—a time when the judges embark on their well-deserved adventures, leaving us lawyers, to question ourselves: What now?

Court vacations can often cause confusion. This blog is intended to shed light on the impact of court vacations on deadlines. Understanding this is crucial so that the rest of us can go on a well-deserved holiday without guilt or worry.

Court vacations

Pursuant to Article 83(1) of the Courts Act (»ZS«), court vacations from July 15 to August 15.

Urgent cases

While court vacations generally affect regular procedural deadlines, special circumstances apply to urgent cases. Urgent cases include cases, such as criminal cases in which defendants are deprived of liberty, matters related to the protection of children, detention in mental health facilities, inventory of deceased assets, bankruptcy and insolvency matters, and other matters stated by law. In these urgent cases, procedural steps, including extraordinary remedies, are carried out without interruption even during court vacations.

Time limits in regular cases

In regular cases, time limits depend on whether the document was served before or during the court vacation. If the document is served before the beginning of the court vacation, the time limit is interrupted on July 15 and resumed on August 16. In other words, the time limits, including July 14, are interrupted during the court vacation from July 15 to August 15, inclusive, and resume on August 16. Thus, if a judgment with a 30-day appeal/review period is received on June 15, the new deadline is August 16, or the next business day if August 16 falls on a weekend. However, if the document is served during the court vacations, the procedural deadlines begin on August 16.

Procedural deadlines vs. substantive limitation periods

It is important to distinguish between procedural time limits and substantive limitation periods. Article 83(3) ZS refers to procedural deadlines, including payment of court fees, retrial, and challenges to court settlements. These deadlines are affected by court vacations. In contrast, substantive statutes of limitations, such as those relating to employee rights, pension and disability insurance claims, unemployment insurance benefits, and inadmissibility of enforcement, are not affected by court vacations.

Exceptions to judicial vacations

Certain aspects of court proceedings are unaffected by court vacations. First, for service of documents in administrative proceedings, the general rule is that time limits begin to run on the day after service, regardless of whether the document is served on a judicial vacation. Second, the usual time limits also apply for documents other than court documents, such as employer decisions. Finally, court vacations do not affect the deadline for filing a constitutional complaint.