Product liability—Switzerland—Q&A guide

The following Commercial practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Product liability—Switzerland—Q&A guide
  • 1. What is the structure of the civil court system?
  • 2. What is the role of the judge in civil proceedings and what is the role of the jury?
  • 3. What are the basic pleadings filed with the court to institute, prosecute and defend the product liability action and what is the sequence and timing for filing them?
  • 4. Are there any pre-filing requirements that must be satisfied before a formal lawsuit may be commenced by the product liability claimant?
  • 5. Are mechanisms available to the parties to seek resolution of a case before a full hearing on the merits?
  • 6. What is the basic trial structure?
  • 7. Are there class, group or other collective action mechanisms available to product liability claimants? Can such actions be brought by representative bodies?
  • 8. How long does it typically take a product liability action to get to the trial stage and what is the duration of a trial?
  • 9. What is the nature and extent of pretrial preservation and disclosure of documents and other evidence? Are there any avenues for pretrial discovery?
  • More...

Product liability—Switzerland—Q&A guide

This Practice Note contains a jurisdiction-specific Q&A guide to product liability in Switzerland published as part of the Lexology Getting the Deal Through series by Law Business Research (published: February 2021).

Authors: CMS von Erlach Poncet AG—Dr. Jodok Wicki

1. What is the structure of the civil court system?

The organisation of the court system in Switzerland is in the competence of the 26 cantons. Each canton has, therefore, its own laws providing for the structure of the courts and its own court structure. Cantons also have their respective official language (sometimes also two languages in one canton), and direct the language to be used in each court (ie, German, French, Italian or Rumantsch).

For practical purposes, however, the structure of the courts is quite similar. Most of the claims must first be brought with the justice of peace for a conciliation hearing. In case of failure of conciliation, the substantive claim will be heard before the district court, whose decision is subject to appeal to the court of appeals of the respective canton.

Four cantons (namely Aargau, Berne, St Gallen and Zurich) additionally have commercial courts that hear claims brought against companies (compulsorily if the claimant is another company, and at the choice of the claimant if he or she is an individual) as sole instance on the level of the canton.

In addition, there

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