The courts and tribunals exercise judicial power. The Constitution guarantees the independence of the courts and tribunals in the performance of their functions, by limiting their sphere of activity, by determining their competence and setting out a series of procedural guarantees.
Luxembourg has a Constitutional Court, and two jurisdictions:
- a judicial branch dealing with civil disputes, disputes of a penal nature and disputes regarding political rights;
- an administrative branch which rules on disputes with the authorities.
The Constitutional Court is composed of nine members and has its seat in Luxembourg. It rules on the compliance of laws with the Constitution, with the exception of those which approve treaties.
When a party raises a question about the compliance of a law with the Constitution before a judicial order or an administrative order, it must bring the matter before the Constitutional Court, unless it feels that a decision on the question raised is not necessary in order to give a judgement, or if the constitutionality question is completely unfounded, or if the Constitutional Court has already ruled on a question with the same subject.
It is not possible to appeal a decision of the Constitutional Court.
The Judicial branch
The magistrate's courts
This is the first level of the judicial hierarchy. The three magistrate's courts have their seats in Luxembourg, Esch-sur-Alzette and Diekirch. They are competent for less important cases, both in civil and commercial matters.
In civil and commercial matters, they mostly play the role of conciliators. Above all they try to come to an amicable solution to the conflicts brought before it.
In terms of law enforcement, the magistrate's courts operate as police courts.
Labour courts sitting at magistrates' courts are competent for disputes regarding employment contracts and apprenticeship contracts.
The district courts
The country is divided into the two judicial districts, Luxembourg City and Diekirch, each of which has its own district court.
These courts have jurisdiction in all civil and commercial matters that the law does not expressly assign to another jurisdiction.
In criminal matters, the district courts are organised in the form of a correctional or criminal chamber. The allocation of a case to one of the chambers depends on the severity of the criminal offence.
Finally, the section known as the Juvenile and Guardianship Court has jurisdiction over child and youth protection cases, as determined by law.
The Supreme Court of Justice
This court has its seat in Luxembourg City and consists of:
- a Court of Cassation,
- a Court of Appeal,
- the Public Prosecutor's Office.
The Supreme Court of Justice meets in general assembly to rule on internal matters that concern it, in particular conflicts of allocation and disciplinary actions against magistrates.
The general assembly of the Supreme Court of Justice also hears charges by the Chamber of Deputies against members of the government.
The Court of Cassation has jurisdiction over the Court of Appeal rulings as well as judgements rendered in last resort by the district courts and conciliation judges.
An appeal to the Court of Cassation does not constitute a third path of appeal. The Court of Cassation does not retry a case but its task is to check the exact application of the law by courts and tribunals, in order to ensure a consistent interpretation of the law throughout the country.
The Court of Appeal has jurisdiction over decisions handed down at first instance by the district courts. It has jurisdiction over civil, commercial, criminal and correctional matters, as well as over cases decided by labour tribunals.
The Advocates-General who form the Public Prosecutor's Office are headed by the Chief Public Prosecutor at the courts and tribunals and carry out their duties under the authority of the Minister of Justice.
The public prosecutors represent the public in court and their main task is to investigate crimes, offences and misdemeanours, to ensure that the law is enforced and to ensure that judgements are enforced.
The Public Prosecutor's Office receives complaints and denunciations, in particular from victims of crime or from police services. It decides independently, based on the principle of opportunity, on what action to take, in other words whether or not to initiate criminal proceedings. To this end, it conducts the activities of the criminal police under the jurisdiction of its tribunal.
Public prosecutors are assisted in their task by the criminal police, who record violations of criminal law, seek the perpetrators and gather evidence.
The Prosecutor General and Advocates-General form the Public Prosecutor's Office at the Supreme Court of Justice. The two State Public Prosecutors and their deputies form the district prosecutors' offices at the District Courts.
The Administrative Tribunal
The Administrative Tribunal, sitting in Luxembourg, rules on appeals submitted against all administrative decisions for which no other appeal is permissible according to the law and regulations and against regulatory administrative acts, regardless of the authority they are issued by. In principle, it also hears appeals on direct taxes and municipal taxes and duties.
An appeal may be lodged before the Administrative Court against the decisions of the Administrative Tribunal.
The Administrative Court
Supreme administrative jurisdiction lies with the Administrative Court.
Unless otherwise provided by law, an appeal may be lodged before the Administrative Court, sitting in Luxembourg, against judgements given by the Administrative Tribunal ruling in cases in which annulment of administrative acts or regulatory acts is sought by the plaintiff. The Administrative Court handles appeals dealing with the substance of the case, against judgments made by other administrative courts which pronounced reversals on appeal in cases where special laws confer jurisdiction upon them.
The state is represented before the Administrative Court by a representative or by a lawyer.