As a rule, in order to attend the public sessions – party hearings or deliberations – there is no need to register in advance. Before entering the courthouse, a baggage check is carried out on the interested audience.
A public party hearing provides the parties, lower instances and possible other parties concerned the opportunity to express themselves in court on the matter in dispute. At the Federal Administrative Court, a public party hearing can only take place in proceedings relating to civil claims or criminal charges (see Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights). It is ordered by the instructing judge if a party demands such a hearing or if substantial public interests justify it (see Article 40 of Federal Administrative Court Act).
During a public deliberation on the judgment the judges decide on a matter in dispute. On this occasion the judges discuss their different arguments and finally vote on the outcome of the proceedings. A public deliberation is conducted at the Federal Administrative Court under the following conditions (see Article 41 of Federal Administrative Court Act):
- A decision is taken by a panel of five judges;
- The panel of judges has been unable to agree on the issue at hand;
- The President of the Division orders a public deliberation or a judge on the panel requests such a public deliberation.
Four public party hearings will be held from 20 to 22 January 2020.