There are 24 OLGs in Germany and they deal with civil and criminal matters. They are positioned above state courts (Landgerichte) and below the Federal Court of Justice (Bundesgerichtshof), in family and child law above the district courts (Amtsgericht) and below the Federal Court of Justice. In the Oberlandesgerichte, the offices of the Generalstaatsanwaltschaft or district attorney general are located. In criminal cases that are under primary jurisdiction of the Federal Court of Justice (i.e., cases concerning the national security), the Oberlandesgerichte act as a branch of the Federal Court of Justice, that is, as "lower federal courts" (Untere Bundesgerichte).
The Oberlandesgerichte were first set up in the German Empire by the Courts Constitution Act of 27 January 1877. In Prussia, there had been Oberlandesgerichte as the higher provincial courts since 1808, known as Regierung from 1723 to 1808.