Litigation in Switzerland

Litigation in Switzerland

Updated on Thursday 18th April 2019

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1. What are the types of Courts in Switzerland?

The  Swiss federal judiciary  consists of the Federal Supreme Court, the Federal Criminal Court and the Federal Administrative Court. 
The Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland used to be formed by a single room and it currently consists of seven courts: two Courts of Civil Law, two courts of public law, a court of criminal law courts and two social courts. The headquarters of the Federal Court is located in Lausanne, while the two social law courts are located in Lucerne.
The Federal Criminal Court of Switzerland is located in Bellinzona and consists in the Plenary Court divided in the Court of Criminal Cases and the Court of complaints. The judgments of the Court of Criminal Cases may be appealed to the Federal Court.
The Swiss Federal Administrative Court is located in St. Gallen and consists of five courses and a general secretariat. The following management bodies are established by law: the Presidency, the plenary Court, the Conference of Presidents and the Administrative Commission. With 75 judges and 320 employees, it is the highest court of Switzerland.

2. What are the responsibilities of the Courts in Switzerland?

The Swiss Courts of public law handles cases related to expropriation, matters affecting land use, including political rights, international legal assistance in criminal matters; traffic; citizenship and  handles appeals in public law and constitutional remedies subsidiary in the following areas: law of foreign taxes; public economic law and other areas of administrative law unless some other court is not competent.
The Civil Law Courts in Switzerland handles appeals in civil and constitutional cases from the following areas: contract law, insurance contract, tort, responsibility for medical activities, matter related to the Civil Code, rural land, debt collection and bankruptcy registrar and decisions on the recognition and enforcement of decisions and on mutual assistance in civil matters.
The Court of criminal of Switzerland law treats criminal appeals and remedies in public law and constitutional remedies subsidiary in criminal matters in the following areas: criminal law (including the execution of sentences and measures), criminal Procedure.
The social courts are hearing cases related to the following areas: disability insurance, accident insurance, unemployment insurance, social insurance canton, family allowances, social assistance and help in distress situations, military insurance; . right of the public service, old-age and survivors; disability insurance, compensation for loss of earnings (including maternity); insurance, occupational pensions, supplementary benefits.
The Swiss Federal Criminal Court hears the criminal cases subject to federal criminal jurisdiction, such as cases involving terrorism, organized crime and particular crimes and offenses against the interests of the State, the unlawful use of explosives, as well as economic crime, organized crime or money laundering in cases that exceed federal or cantonal borders. It’s also decides on complaints appeals against decisions and actions of the police, the Ministry of the Attorney General and criminal authorities competent for tickets.
The Federal Administrative Court of Switzerland hears appeals against decisions made by a federal authority, and in certain areas, the cantonal authorities. In addition, it is the first instance proceedings by way of action. The Federal Administrative Court does not act ultimately its decisions may be appealed to the Federal Court.

3. What are the responsibilities of the Arbitrary Court in Switzerland?

The Swiss Chamber of Arbitration Institution was incorporated by the Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Zurich, Neuchatel, Basel, Bern, Geneva, Lausanne and Lugano. It is responsible for dispute resolution based on the Swiss Rules of International Arbitration and the Swiss Rules of Commercial Mediation.
Arbitration can take place only if an agreement was signed between the parties regarding this way of settling disputes. The necessary time for reaching a decision is shorter than the necessary time required reaching at a decision in case of a classic lawsuit. Other advantage is that the parties can chose the arbitrators from the list available at the Swiss Chamber of Arbitration Institution. The costs related to an arbitration process are lower than in case of lawsuits.

4. How long does Litigation in Switzerland take?

There are many criteria which can influence the duration of a lawsuit in Switzerland; usually a basic case of minor offence can take around six months and may be prolonged by the appealing of the initial decision at a higher instance.
For more information please contact our lawyers in Switzerland. Our law firm has a long history of representing clients before the Courts of Switzerland