The appeal process
The Appeal Committee conducts its proceedings in accordance with the Act on Administrative Law of the Canton of Bern (Verwaltungsrechtspflegegesetz, VRPG). This is divided into two phases, the instruction and the decision:
The aim of the instruction is to clarify the issue at hand and to prepare the decision. The instruction phase is led by the President of the Appeal Committee.
- Submission of the appeal
- Verification that the deadlines and formalities have been met; possible rejection of the appeal on the grounds that improvements are required (Article 32 ff VRPG).
- First exchange of correspondence: The Appeal Committee presents a copy of the appeal to the lower court for an opinion (Article 69 paragraph 1 VRPG). The latter formulates an opinion in its appeal consultation process and submits the documentation to the Appeal Committee (Article 69 paragraph 2 VRPG). Instead of conducting the appeal consultation process, however, it may also make a partly or completely new announcement in favor of the complainant or rescind the contested announcement (Article 71 paragraph 1 VRPG).
- In general, second exchange of correspondence: Reply from the complainant and rejoinder from the lower court (Article 69 paragraph 3 VRPG).
- If need be, the president orders a preparatory hearing (Article 19 VRPG)
- If need be, an expert opinion or witness statements are obtained (Article 19 VRPG).
Proceedings may be settled as early as the preparatory hearing phase, in particular as a result of the following (see Article 39 paragraph 1 VRPG):
- Withdrawal of the appeal by the complainant. The appeal may be withdrawn at any time up until the Appeal Committee makes its decision. In this case, the complainant may bear the costs of the proceedings under certain circumstances.
- Declaration by the lower court that it shall comply with the complainant's request.
- Issuing of a new announcement by the lower court that fully meets the complainant's demands.
- An agreement between the parties.
Once the instruction phase is complete and upon request of the President, all members of the Appeal Committee present decide whether the subject matter of the appeal is justified (approval) or not (rejection). As a rule, the complainant shall bear the costs of proceedings if its appeal is unsuccessful.
In turn, an appeal may be lodged with the Administrative Court of the Canton of Bern against the decision of the Appeal Committee (Article 76 paragraph 2 UniG).