Litigation

Evidence – documents

Is there a duty to preserve documents and other evidence pending trial? Must parties share relevant documents (including those unhelpful to their case)?

During proceedings, the parties may request the production of documents that are in the possession of the opposing party or a third party. While third parties or authorities must produce relevant documents in their possession, unless they have a right to refuse to testify under Liechtenstein law, the parties themselves generally do not have an obligation to produce documents or any other evidence that might be adverse to their interests. There are, however, several exceptions to this rule. A party must not, for example, refuse to submit a document if it is obliged by law to release it or if the document was mutually produced.

However, even in relation to documents the production of which has been ordered by the court, a party cannot be effectively forced to produce such documents. If a party refuses to present the documents, the court may only take this into consideration in the weighing of evidence.

Evidence – privilege

Are any documents privileged? Would advice from an in-house lawyer (whether local or foreign) also be privileged?

The procedural laws contain provisions allowing the lawyer to preserve secrecy. In particular, section 321(1) (4) ZPO provides that the lawyer is entitled to refuse to testify as a witness regarding information entrusted to him or her by his or her client. This privilege must not be circumvented by other means; for example, the examination of employees of the lawyer or an order to produce documents (article 15(2) of the Lawyers Act (RAG)). The legal privilege extends, in particular, to correspondence between the lawyer and his or her client, irrespective of where and in whose possession this correspondence covered by the professional secrecy protection is (article 15(3) RAG).

In-house lawyers are not protected because they are not lawyers in the sense of the RAG. Lawyers who are admitted to a foreign bar may invoke professional secrecy obligations like Liechtenstein lawyers, and therefore the same level of legal privilege applies to such lawyers.

Evidence – pretrial

Do parties exchange written evidence from witnesses and experts prior to trial?

Parties do not usually exchange written evidence from witnesses and experts prior to trial. As a general rule, there is no pretrial discovery in Liechtenstein. However, in specific and narrowly defined circumstances, the taking of evidence as a form of precautionary measure prior to trial is possible.

Evidence – trial

How is evidence presented at trial? Do witnesses and experts give oral evidence?

Pursuant to the principle of immediacy and orality of proceedings, judges must obtain an immediate impression of the case. That means that only what has been brought forward in an oral hearing may form the basis of adjudication. Therefore, both witnesses and experts have to testify orally and will be questioned by the court. The parties have the right to ask for explanations or submit additional questions.

If a witness cannot appear before a court in Liechtenstein, the court will either adjourn the hearing or, if it is unlikely that the witness will obey a summons, ask the competent court where the witness resides via letters rogatory to take the testimony. The same applies with regard to experts.