Switzerland had one main lockdown in response to covid-19 which had a direct impact on court proceedings. During that time, court proceedings were mostly either postponed or held virtually. The Federal Council worked out a new legal basis so that in-person proceedings could resume, with additional safety requirements. There are some advantages to virtual hearings but there are also major drawbacks, including no accounting for the impression that can be made in person, which can be important when questioning a witness.

There are not yet many proceedings directly as a result of covid-19 but this is more likely to take centre stage in 2022. For now, the Swiss courts are busy with common litigation subjects (eg, bankruptcy and employment law), as well as considering how to enforce UK judgments post-Brexit, now that the United Kingdom is no longer party to the Lugano Convention. This creates a requirement to defer to the Swiss Private International Law Act.

Each of the 26 cantons of Switzerland have their own court system and organisational structure thereof. Potential litigants should be aware of the rules of the specific court that they are litigating in, including what the procedural language will be. As Swiss law can be complicated, parties should stay alert of any changes to regulations that may occur. Also, it is vital that detailed records are kept of all documents that a party sends and receives.

In the video below, Cyrill Käser and Susanne Brütsch discuss how the courts adapted to the covid-19 pandemic and what the recent litigation trends in Switzerland have been and may be moving into 2022. They also offer guidance to litigants about how to avoid common pitfalls in the process.

For more information please contact Cyrill Käser or Susanne Brütsch at Lenz & Staehelin by telephone (+41 58 450 80 00) or email ([email protected] or [email protected]). The Lenz & Staehelin website can be accessed at www.lenzstaehelin.com.