Latest updates

ECJ declares EU-US Privacy Shield Framework invalid – impact on Switzerland
Walder Wyss
  • Tech, Data, Telecoms & Media
  • Switzerland
  • 07 August 2020

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) recently declared that the European Commission's decision that the United States ensured an adequate level of protection of personal data transferred under the EU-US Privacy Shield Framework was invalid. This article examines the effect that the ECJ's decision will have on the Swiss-US Privacy Shield Framework.

How are Swiss-based international groups affected by EU Directive on Administrative Cooperation?
Walder Wyss
  • Corporate Tax
  • Switzerland
  • 31 July 2020

The EU Directive on Administrative Cooperation need not be incorporated into Swiss law, but its impact on groups based in Switzerland may be significant. Considering the directive's broad scope, it is crucial that Swiss-based groups identify qualifying intercompany transactions at an early stage and ensure that they comply with the applicable subsidiary reporting obligations in cases with no involvement of EU intermediaries.

Proposed federal act on rent payments during COVID-19 lockdown
Pestalozzi Attorneys at Law
  • Real Estate
  • Switzerland
  • 24 July 2020

The Federal Council recently submitted to Parliament a preliminary draft federal act on rent payments during the COVID-19 lockdown and opened the consultation procedure with the cantons, political parties and interested organisations. The act is a political decision and its constitutional basis is questionable. Further, a number of the suggested provisions leave room for improvement.

Execution-only relationship – transactions without mandate and calculation of damages
Meyerlustenberger Lachenal
  • Banking & Financial Services
  • Switzerland
  • 21 July 2020

A recent Supreme Court decision concerned a case in which a relationship manager with a Swiss bank left said bank without the relevant bank's client being informed. The relationship manager continued to act on the client's behalf and gave investment orders to the bank, which the bank followed. The bulk of the court's decision discussed how the relevant damages suffered by the client must be alleged, contested and determined.

FINMA brings more clarity to transition regimes for financial service providers
Meyerlustenberger Lachenal
  • Banking & Financial Services
  • Switzerland
  • 14 July 2020

The new Financial Services Act and Financial Institutions Act came into force on 1 January 2020 together with their implementing ordinances. These laws oblige the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority to license several new bodies, such as supervisory organisations responsible for supervising portfolio managers and trustees, as well as registration bodies responsible for maintaining client advisory registers.

ComCo opens up gas market in central Switzerland
Lenz & Staehelin
  • Energy & Natural Resources
  • Switzerland
  • 06 July 2020

The Swiss Competition Commission (ComCo) recently reviewed whether Energie Wasser Luzern Holding AG and Erdgas Zentralschweiz AG had a dominant position in the natural gas market and whether their refusal to grant grid access qualified as an unlawful refusal to deal. The undertakings ultimately concluded a consensual settlement with ComCo which – combined with the future Gas Supply Act – will likely improve competition in the gas supply market.

First annulment of investment arbitration award by Supreme Court
Tavernier Tschanz
  • Arbitration & ADR
  • Switzerland
  • 02 July 2020

In a recently published decision, the Supreme Court – for the first time – partially annulled an arbitral award issued in an investment arbitration. A Geneva-based arbitral tribunal, which was constituted under the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law Arbitration Rules, had wrongly declined jurisdiction to decide an investment treaty claim brought by Clorox España SL against Venezuela.

No review by Swiss courts of government's approach to climate change
Lenz & Staehelin
  • Litigation
  • Switzerland
  • 30 June 2020

The Supreme Court has held that an association of elderly women lacks standing to request the Swiss courts to review Switzerland's approach to meeting the Paris Agreement targets to mitigate the effects of climate change. The court's decision was seemingly motivated by the broad means available to individuals and groups to engage in the political process in Switzerland. The decision casts doubt on the future of climate change litigation which questions the approach taken by the Swiss government.

Are the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic insured? Ombudsman commissions legal expert's opinion
Badertscher Attorneys at Law
  • Insurance
  • Switzerland
  • 30 June 2020

After spreading from Wuhan to Switzerland in less than three months, the COVID-19 crisis is creating major challenges for Swiss insurers, particularly with regard to whether insurance coverage for the effects of an epidemic also apply to a pandemic. The Swiss Ombudsman of Private Insurance recently commissioned Law Professor Dr Walter Fellmann to issue a legal opinion regarding selected epidemic insurance wordings. This article discusses the conclusions of Fellmann's legal opinion.

EU drone regulations will apply in Switzerland
Proton Legal LLC
  • Aviation
  • Switzerland
  • 24 June 2020

In 2019 the European Union issued a package of regulations relating to the use of drones. Although Switzerland is not a member of the European Union, both the EU Commission Implementing Regulation and the EU Commission Delegated Regulation will be adopted into Swiss law. The current Swiss regime on the operation of drones will remain in force until the end of 2020.

Legal aspects of receivables embodied in bills of exchange
  • Banking & Financial Services
  • Switzerland
  • 23 June 2020

Bills of exchange are subject to strict regulations governing their formal and substantive aspects. However, the position of the beneficiary of a bill of exchange is much stronger than the legal position of the contractual assignee of a receivable not embodied in such an instrument. Thus, from a Swiss perspective, it is worthwhile considering a draft purchase structure, particularly in case of a high value of the single receivables that will be subject to the transaction.

Moratoria during COVID-19 pandemic – an overview
Pestalozzi Attorneys at Law
  • Insolvency & Restructuring
  • Switzerland
  • 19 June 2020

Originally, unlike in other jurisdictions, the purpose of a moratorium in Switzerland was not necessarily to continue doing business, but rather to find a better way to liquidate a company; however, this has changed as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. There is now another type of moratorium under Swiss law (although probably only until 20 October 2020), which is intended to promote restructuring.

Impact of MDR postponement on Swiss medtech industry
Walder Wyss
  • Healthcare & Life Sciences
  • Switzerland
  • 17 June 2020

The European Parliament recently decided to postpone the transition timeline to implement the EU Medical Device Regulation, which was set to expire on 26 May 2020, until 26 May 2021. Although there has been no official statement from the European Union, the competent Swiss authorities consider it as granted that the status quo regarding medical devices continues to apply to Switzerland. This article discusses the presumed impact of the postponement on the Swiss medtech industry.

Federal Council moves forward in protection against cyber risks
Walder Wyss
  • Tech, Data, Telecoms & Media
  • Switzerland
  • 12 June 2020

The Federal Council recently adopted the Ordinance on Protecting against Cyber Risks (OPCy), which is set to enter into force on 1 July 2020. This move is the next step in a series of measures taken by the Federal Council to adopt a new organisational structure and implement a national strategy to protect Switzerland against cyber risks. Along with the adoption of the OPCy, the Federal Council has also planned for 20 additional positions in the respective offices for cyber risk protection.

Latest MELANI report – most important cyber incidents in second half of 2019
Walder Wyss
  • Tech, Data, Telecoms & Media
  • Switzerland
  • 05 June 2020

The Reporting and Analysis Centre for Information Assurance recently published its latest semi-annual report regarding the most important cyber incidents and cyber risks of the second half of 2019 in Switzerland and abroad. The report contains several practical recommendations for individuals and companies to improve their protection against cyberattacks.

Switzerland to extend certain climate protection measures until 2021
Pestalozzi Attorneys at Law
  • Environment & Climate Change
  • Switzerland
  • 01 June 2020

The Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communication recently launched the consultation process for a partial revision of the CO2 Ordinance. Amendments to the ordinance are necessary to extend certain climate protection measures until the end of 2021, as recently decided by Parliament.

Legal uncertainty over rent reductions due to COVID-19 remains
Pestalozzi Attorneys at Law
  • Real Estate
  • Switzerland
  • 29 May 2020

Numerous shops, restaurants and other facilities throughout Switzerland have had to close their businesses due to emergency regulations issued to combat COVID-19. This has led to the question of whether the tenants of such premises are still obliged to pay rent or whether they are entitled to a full or partial rent reduction. Despite many opinions having been expressed in the legal community and by politicians, this question remains as unanswered as it was at the beginning of the lockdown.

Tax treatment of debt waivers and other debt-to-equity swaps
Walder Wyss
  • Corporate Tax
  • Switzerland
  • 29 May 2020

In economic life, debt waivers involving associated companies take on central significance in the context of a restructuring. It can be assumed that restructuring will greatly increase in the near future due to the financial difficulties of many companies resulting from the current COVID-19 crisis. Although the tax treatment of a debt waiver granted by an independent third party is essentially well defined (ie, it is recognised in income), many questions will arise if debt is waived by a related party – namely, a shareholder.

Secretariat of ComCo advises on obligation to notify concentration
Lenz & Staehelin
  • Competition & Antitrust
  • Switzerland
  • 28 May 2020

Under Swiss law, a proposed concentration triggers a mandatory pre-merger notification if one of the undertakings concerned has been held to be dominant, irrespective of the statutory turnover thresholds. It was previously unclear whether this criterion had to be met at the time of signing or at the time of closing. The Secretariat of the Swiss Competition Commission has now clarified this question.

Preventive approach to incapacity issues
LALIVE
  • Private Client & Offshore Services
  • Switzerland
  • 28 May 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has placed issues of life and death at the forefront of people's minds, with many people requiring intensive medical care which may deprive them of their capacity of judgement and require others to take decisions for them. This time of significant change is an opportune moment to consider the importance of taking preventive steps before a state of incapacity arises to ensure that individuals' wishes are respected, as well as the various means available to do so.