The Constitution and special acts of legislation lay down the foundations necessary to keep the judges free from all influence from the executive and legislative powers, but also to grant their independence from the citizens. Pursuant to the separation of powers, they are independent in the exercise of their functions.
Luxembourg has a Constitutional Court, deciding as to the conformity of the laws with the Constitution and two jurisdictions:
- ordinary courts of law, dealing with civil disputes, disputes of a criminal nature and disputes regarding political rights;
- administrative jurisdictions, which rule on disputes with the public administration.
The Constitutional Court has its seat in Luxembourg and, as its name implies, rules on the constitutionality of laws. It is composed of nine members and comprises a single chamber composed of five judges.
It is not possible for the citizens to directly lodge an appeal with the Constitutional Court. If a party questions the constitutionality of a law before a judicial or administrative jurisdiction, the matter must be referred to the Constitutional Court if the issue of constitutionality is deemed vital to the solution of a dispute.
The Constitutional Court decides by way of judgements which are published in the Mémorial, the Official Journal of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, within 30 days of their delivery.
Courts of law
The courts of law include the three magistrate's courts, the two district courts and the Supreme Court of Justice.
The magistrate's courts
Magistrate's courts represent the first level of the hierarchy of courts. The three magistrate's courts in the Grand Duchy sit in Luxembourg City, Esch-sur-Alzette and Diekirch.
Magistrate's courts deal with cases of lesser importance in civil and commercial matters, provided the object of dispute may not exceed the sum of 10,000 euros in case of an appeal. They mostly play the role of conciliators and above all try to come to an amicable solution. In terms of law enforcement, the magistrate's courts operate as police courts.
The district courts
The country is divided into two judicial districts, i.e. Luxembourg City and Diekirch. There is a district court for each of them.
These courts have jurisdiction in all civil and commercial matters that the law does not expressly assign to another jurisdiction. In criminal cases, the district courts act as a correctional chamber or as a criminal chamber, depending on the gravity of the criminal offence.
The Supreme Court of Justice
The Supreme Court of Justice has its seat in Luxembourg and consists of:
- the Court of Cassation, in charge of reviewing judgments delivered by the courts, including the courts of appeal. The Court of Cassation does not judge the facts of the case, but decides on matters of law or application of the law. Its jurisprudence therefore ensures a uniform application of the laws.
- the Court of Appeal , which has jurisdiction over decisions handed down at first instance by the district courts. It handles civil, commercial, criminal and correctional matters.
- the Public Prosecutor's Office.
The general assembly of the Supreme Court of Justice meets to hear charges admitted by the Parliament (Chambre des députés) against members of the government.
Created following the constitutional reform of 12 July 1996, the administrative jurisdictions are composed of the Administrative Court and the Administrative Tribunal. They are competent for disputes concerning administrative decisions.
The Administrative Tribunal issues a first instance ruling in cases of objections lodged on grounds of incompetence, abuse and misuse of power, violation of the law or of procedures protecting private interests, against any administrative decisions where no other recourse is admissible under the laws and regulations.
Supreme administrative jurisdiction lies with the Administrative Court . It is an appeal body, which primarily hears cases brought against the decisions of other administrative courts and arbitrates disputes between the government and the Court of Auditors.