First Aid

01.Do I have to open my bag at the supermarket?
02.Can I be held in a store?
03.Do I have to carry an ID?
04.What do I do if I'm sued and receive a payment order?
05.When does the notice period begin?
06.What do I do if I receive a penal order from a court or the authorities?
07.What do I do if the bailiff is at my door?
08.What can be seized?
09.What do I do if the ATM dispenses too little money?
10.What do I do if I am involved in a traffic accident?
11.My picture was posted on the Internet without my permission. What can I do about it?
12.How is maintenance calculated for children?
13.How is maintenance calculated for spouses?
14.How do I register a public assembly?


01.  Do I have to open my bag at the supermarket?

You do not have to open your shopping bag at the supermarket if you don't want to. Only in the case of an urgent suspicion do the police - and not the store detective or a store employee - have a right to search your bag. Such an urgent suspicion would exist if the store detective claims that you "stole" something. But even in that case, only the police, and not store employees or the store detective, are entitled to open your bag. Before you let things get that far, try to defuse the situation. Sometimes it's better to give in and allow your bag to be searched, and then complain to the management, the Chamber of Labour, the Consumer Information Association, the Chamber of Commerce, and the police - wherever possible in writing.

02.  Can I be held in a store?

Anyone has the right to make a citizen's arrest if he/she sees another person commit an offence. In doing so, however, the person making the arrest runs the risk that it may turn out that no offence was committed at all, and that the arrest constitutes unlawful detention. Even if the store detective or store employees claim that you stole something, they can only hold you with "an appropriate degree of force." If, for example, while being held due to an object worth a few euro, you suffer a grievous bodily harm or a far more valuable object is damaged, the arrester may be liable for damages. Nevertheless, it is advisable to resolve such situations amicably, giving in, if necessary. Once the situation has passed, you can complain effectively to the store management, the Chamber of Labour, the Chamber of Commerce, the Consumer Information Association, the trade authorities and the media.

03.  Do I have to carry an ID?

Since the Schengen Agreement came into force, individuals have been required, in principle, to carry identification. However, you can only be requested to show this identification if a suspicion exists that you have committed an offence, which may be an administrative offence (e.g. going through a red light). If you have no ID on you, you can be taken to a police station to establish your identity. This can take a while. However, if a person who knows you and has an ID identifies you, that is sufficient proof of your identity. If you do not have Austrian citizenship, you must carry an ID at all times.

04.  What do I do if I'm sued and receive a payment order?

If you receive a payment order from the court, you can appeal it within 14 days if you believe that the plaintiff's claim is unjustified. If you do not appeal, the payment order becomes final and the plaintiff may request execution against you. You may submit the appeal yourself; however, unless the amount in controversy exceeds EUR 3,778.99 in which case will must be represented by a lawyer.
If the amount allegedly owed exceeds EUR 9,447.47, no payment order is issued. Instead, you will be ordered to submit a statement of defence, to be drafted by a lawyer. If no defence is lodged, a default judgment is rendered.
If you receive an eviction notice from a court, you must likewise respond or risk losing your home. Informal "objections" must be submitted to the court within four weeks.
Make sure that your letters to the court are all registered, so that, e.g. if your appeal is ruled "in violation" you can prove that you actually sent document.

05.  When does the notice period begin?

In principle, the period begins when you are served the letter from the court. If the letter cannot be delivered to you, you will receive a notice in your mailbox informing you that it is available for pick-up at the post office. The letter is considered served as of that date, and not when you actually pick up the letter.
However, if you are on holiday during the service process, the notice period commences on your return.

06.  What do I do if I receive a penal order from a court or the authorities?

You can appeal a penal order within 14 days, whether from a court, in the case of an act punishable by the courts, or from an authority in the case of an administrative offence. This initiates due process.
The court will hold a hearing; the authority will give you the opportunity to argue your case. You may name witnesses or specify other evidence to prove your innocence.

07.  What do I do if the bailiff is at my door?

Seizures can be very unpleasant. For the bailiff to be at your door, you must have already received at least one payment order and a writ of execution. Moreover, you must have omitted to take any legal action against these two court orders. The visit should therefore not be a complete surprise. The bailiff will give his name and the name of the court he works for, and will hand you a copy of the writ of execution. When the bailiff asks to enter your home or place of business, allow him to do so. He will only do so if he is authorised by the court. If you refuse him entry, he can call a locksmith. This will merely unnecessarily add to the cost.

08.  What can be seized?

All of your assets can be seized other than what you need to exercise your profession, the most essential furniture and clothing and your wedding ring. Attempt to reach an agreement with your creditors on payment by instalments or another arrangement before it comes to a seizure.

09.  What do I do if the ATM dispenses too little money?

You must report the incident immediately to the ATM company. The phone number of the company should be printed on your ATM card. The longer you wait with your complaint, the less likely your story is to be believed. If you have a witness that the ATM did not dispense the money, ask for their name and address.

10.  What do I do if I am involved in a traffic accident?

If someone has been injured you should immediately call an ambulance and the police, of course. You should then do everything necessary to secure evidence.
In the event of traffic accidents with damage to property, ask for the details of the other party and secure any other evidence. Write down the names and addresses of impartial eyewitnesses. Remember that you may have to assert your claim in court, and may therefore need evidence.
Do not sign any admissions of liability; instead, make a sketch of the accident site and make a written record of events.
Then report the accident immediately to your third party and legal insurers.
Remember that you will have to support your claims: ask for a receipt for all repairs, taxi trips, public transport tickets, etc.

11.  My picture was posted on the Internet without my permission. What can I do about it?

In Munich, citizens of Turkish descent saved a Greek worker from being beaten to death by assailants. Their pictures were published in the press. Now, these pictures are posted on websites which call for violence against those who saved the worker's life. If something like this should happen to you, you may be able to prevent publication of the pictures by obtaining a temporary injunction.

12.  How is maintenance calculated for children?

For the current average requirements please visit our German website.

13.  How is maintenance calculated for spouses?

The homemaking spouse is entitled to reasonable maintenance.
Spouses with no income are entitled to 33% of the income of the spouse who is liable for maintenance, if there are no other dependants. Otherwise, each additional dependant results in a 4% deduction. The spouse with the lower income is entitled to 40% of the net family income minus his/her own income. The percentage is reduced by 4% for each additional dependant.

14.  How do I register a public assembly?

- Which assemblies must be registered?

Under the Austrian Public Assemblies Act, notification is only required for popular gatherings and assemblies which are open to the public. Assemblies which are only open to invited guests; indoor election meetings at election time; wedding processions, funerals, pilgrimages; processions and other traditional parades do not require notification.

- When do I have to register an assembly?

The assembly must be reported to the authorities at least 24 hours before it is to be held. Notification may be informal, but must be in writing.

- Where do I register an assembly?

At the district authority. If there is a Federal Police Directorate in your area, report it there. In Vienna, at the Office for association, assembly, and media affairs of the Vienna Federal Police Directorate, Schottenring 7-9, in A-1010 Vienna, tel. 313100.

- What must the notice of assembly contain?

The authorities must be notified of the purpose, location and/or route, and time of the assembly, as well as the names and addresses of the organisers. In addition, the expected number of participants, the schedule (form of assembly and resources to be used), and the phone number of a contact person must be given.

- What is the cost of notification?

Nothing. The authorities must confirm the notification in writing upon request.

- What else must I remember?

It is important not to forget the prohibited area. While the National Council, the Federal Council, the Federal Assembly, or a provincial assembly are in session, no outdoor assembly may be held within a radius of 300m. It is also important to remember any additional reporting duties, e.g. if it is a stationary demonstration and information booths etc. are to be used.

Anwaltskanzlei Unterweger, Buchfeldgasse 19a, A-1080 Vienna,