According to the federal constitution the Independent Administrative Tribunals are convened in order to monitor the public authorities. The UVSs are not courts as usually defined by the federal constitution, but tribunals in the sense of the European Convention on Human Rights. The organisation of the tribunals and the public service regulations applicable for the members are a matter for the individual federal provinces. The members of the UVS have paramount authority.
The main responsibilities of the UVS are:
- to function as a court of appeal in administrative criminal law
- to rule on complaints by persons who claim that their rights have been violated as a result of the exercise of the power of command and execution by the authorities.
- to function as a court of appeal in other instances as directed in law.
In the field of administrative criminal law, the right of appeal is fixed. The same is not true in other instances: at present the UVS has been assigned tasks as a result of approximately 60 federal and regional laws. In any judicial proceedings held before the UVS, the accused or the claimant and the first instance authority (as the authority against whom the complaint is made) appear as equal parties in the proceedings. In many cases a public court hearing is held. The decisions reached by the UVS bring the case to a definitive conclusion in 98 per cent of cases. They are fully documented and are therefore transparent for any interested parties.