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In this blog post, law experts at IQ Decision UK will provide a brief overview of the Swiss court system and will talk about whether it is possible to resolve a commercial dispute in Switzerland without filing an application to the court.

A complex system of justice

Switzerland is famous all over the world for its complex but perfectly functioning judicial system. It consists of federal courts, cantonal courts, and a wide variety of specialized courts. The cantons are responsible for organizing the work of the courts.

The hierarchy of state courts in the country is divided into several overlapping subsystems. The principles of the cantonal courts' activity are fixed, as a rule, in the constitutions of the subjects of the federation. In most cantons, judges are elected for a term of 4 years (terms of election by country vary from 1 to 10 years). Courts of first instance are located in municipalities, represented by the institute of justices of the peace.

The Swiss courts of appeal usually have at least 3 judges to decide each case.

Dispute resolution  by arbitration in Switzerland

Disputes in the field of entrepreneurial and economic activities especially with international contracts are often considered in arbitration courts. It is in this court that legal entities and individual entrepreneurs can legally protect and restore their violated rights and interests.

For more than a hundred years, Switzerland has been one of the preferred venues for hosting international arbitrations. Today, Geneva and Zurich are among the most frequently chosen locations. 

The jurisdiction has a large community of lawyers specializing in ADR, both as solicitors and arbitrators. Many of them have vast experience in specific areas of law and in selected industries. Therefore, it is safe to say that Switzerland has the ability to select highly qualified professionals for effective dispute resolution.

Typically, a Swiss arbitral tribunal consists of three judges but this number can be extended. Each party can appoint one arbitrator. The selected arbitrators must then agree on a chairman. Each party may apply to the court to appoint the arbitrators if they failed to do it by themselves.

The powers and authorities of the Swiss Arbitration Court have been expended and now it can:

  • appoint arbitrators;
  • resolve issues on the challenge of arbitrators;
  • extend and reduce the terms set by it;
  • decide on arbitration costs.

New regulatory body

Several years ago, the independent organization of the Arbitration Institute of the Swiss Chambers was created, which now administer all arbitration cases. Earlier, they were administered by seven chambers in the biggest cities which worked separately. The creation of the new body, as well as other changes, are intended to make the arbitration process in Switzerland faster, more integrated and efficient, including in terms of costs which are very high in this jurisdiction.

All parties to the arbitration process in Switzerland are obliged to act in good faith and to make every effort to avoid additional costs and unnecessary delays in the process. Failure to comply with these obligations by the parties may affect the allocation of arbitration costs.

Professional assistance

In the above material we have reviewed the most significant features of the arbitral process in Switzerland, the duties and powers of the tribunal, and the role of the state courts and independent organisations.

If you do not know how to start an arbitration process in Switzerland, you can turn to legal professionals at IQ Decision UK. Consulting a lawyer on the arbitration process in Switzerland will help you learn about all the intricacies of the peaceful settlement of international disputes. 

Our expert approach to international disputes grants effective management of any legal cases. We are particularly adapt for extremely complex and though international disputes.