Switzerland updates

Arbitration & ADR

Contributed by Tavernier Tschanz
One transaction but multiple arbitration agreements: extent of jurisdiction
  • Switzerland
  • 07 May 2020

The Supreme Court recently confirmed an arbitral tribunal's broad interpretation of the objective scope of an arbitration agreement contained in a quality assurance agreement (QAA) to cover disputes which were unrelated to the QAA but arose within the contractual relationship of the parties thereto.

Partial annulment of award based on ultra petita grounds
  • Switzerland
  • 20 February 2020

A recent case addressed the partial annulment of an award which granted damages where the prayer for relief sought only a declaration (ultra petita). In addition to confirming the well-established line of decisions on penalty and substantive public order, this decision is among the few annulments, albeit partial, of an international award by the Supreme Court.

State-owned entity's consent to arbitrate does not bind state – in principle
  • Switzerland
  • 19 December 2019

According to a recent Supreme Court decision, the fact that a party to an arbitration agreement is fully owned by a state is insufficient grounds to have that agreement extended to said state. Therefore, an arbitration agreement concluded by a state-owned entity does not necessarily bind the state itself. In order to do so, the arbitration agreement must be extended to the state.

Supreme Court annuls award for second time in same arbitration dispute
  • Switzerland
  • 29 August 2019

In principle, if an application for an annulment of an arbitral award is upheld, the Supreme Court may cancel only the award (the so-called 'cassatory' nature of the setting aside proceeding). However, as shown by a recent decision, the Supreme Court's findings underlying a cancellation for the violation of a party's right to be heard seem to qualify as directions for the arbitral tribunal which must remake the decision.

Award upheld despite violation of right to be heard
  • Switzerland
  • 09 May 2019

The formal nature of the right to be heard has long been recognised by the Supreme Court. Applied strictly, it entails that an award affected by a violation of such right must be set aside, irrespective of whether the violation affected the outcome of the case. However, the Supreme Court's more recent practice tends to depart from a strict application of the formal nature of the right to be heard and to require the applicant to establish a causal link between the asserted violation and the (adverse) outcome of the case.


Aviation

Contributed by Proton Legal LLC
Federal Administrative Court weighs in on penalty levied on airline for carrying inadmissible persons
  • Switzerland
  • 04 March 2020

'Inadmissible persons' ('INADs') is a term used for passengers who are or will be refused admission to a state by its authorities. Pursuant to Article 122a of the Foreign and Integration Act, a violation of airlines' duty of care is presumed if the airline carries INADs. However, Article 122a departs from the presumption of innocence by requiring airlines to prove specific matters in order to avoid conviction. The Federal Administrative Court recently ruled on the matter.

Supreme Court acquits air traffic controller
  • Switzerland
  • 08 January 2020

The Supreme Court recently upheld an appeal against the conviction of an air traffic controller who had cleared two aircraft in quick succession to take off from two crossing runways at Zurich airport. The decision is welcome news and contrasts with recent convictions of air traffic controllers handed down in Switzerland for operational incidents that resulted in neither injury nor damage.

Supreme Court upholds air traffic controller conviction
  • Switzerland
  • 14 August 2019

The Supreme Court recently dismissed an appeal against the conviction of an air traffic controller for negligent disruption of public transport. In so doing, the court established a new precedent that allows for criminal prosecution and conviction for operational incidents that result in neither injury nor damage. As this decision makes it difficult for aviation professionals to treat their mistakes as learning opportunities, it is a major step backwards for aviation safety.

Air traffic controller convictions draw criticism
  • Switzerland
  • 15 May 2019

Air traffic controller and pilot organisations have criticised recent convictions handed down in Switzerland for operational incidents that resulted in neither injury nor damage. Critics have asserted that criminal prosecutions in the aviation sector tend to do more harm than good. Further, there is widespread concern that criminalisation leads to a loss of cooperation from individuals who could provide the most critical insight into the circumstances of an incident.

Switzerland and United Kingdom sign post-Brexit bilateral air transport agreement
  • Switzerland
  • 06 February 2019

Amid tumultuous Brexit developments, the Swiss and UK authorities recently signed a new bilateral air transport agreement to ensure the continuation of flights between the two countries post-Brexit. Switzerland can apply the new agreement provisionally, pending its entry into force following an exchange of diplomatic notes confirming each country's fulfilment of internal procedures for committing to the agreement. The Swiss government may finalise the new agreement without prior parliamentary approval.


Banking

Contributed by Meyerlustenberger Lachenal
FINMA: temporary exemptions for banks due to COVID-19 crisis
  • Switzerland
  • 15 May 2020

The Swiss Financial Markets Supervisory Authority (FINMA) recently provided banks with clarifications on dealing with COVID-19 credits with federal guarantees within the framework of the capital and liquidity requirements and temporary exemptions relating to the leverage ratio. FINMA will likely further specify these guidelines or issue additional rules depending on the development of the current crisis.

Transaction-related investment advice under FinSA
  • Switzerland
  • 08 May 2020

The Swiss Financial Services Act's more liberal approach to transaction-related investment advice is a significant facilitation for financial service providers, but may also lead to uncertainties regarding its actual scope. This article aims to give some clarity on the sometimes difficult differentiation between the different types of investment advice and on the regulatory consequences of this categorisation.

Treatment of retrocessions and other third-party payments under FinSA
  • Switzerland
  • 17 April 2020

The new Financial Services Act has introduced a number of regulatory obligations for financial service providers towards their clients. In particular, the new act contains a section entirely dedicated to the prevention and handling of conflicts of interest, dealing among other things with retrocessions and similar benefits received by financial service providers from third parties.

Liquidity aid for businesses in times of coronavirus: emergency aid through guaranteed COVID-19 bridging loans
  • Switzerland
  • 03 April 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic and the measures against it taken by states all over the world will have serious consequences for the Swiss economy. To cushion the economic consequences of the spread of the coronavirus, the Federal Council recently approved a comprehensive package of measures worth Sfr32 billion. A key component of this package is government-backed loans to provide liquidity for businesses.

FinSA/FinIA: proposed follow-up regulation by FINMA
  • Switzerland
  • 21 February 2020

The new Financial Services Act and Financial Institutions Act came into force on 1 January 2020 together with the implementing ordinances. These laws oblige the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) to pass a number of implementing provisions pertaining to selected, mainly technical issues. As a result, FINMA has created a new, streamlined Financial Institutions Ordinance and introduced amendments to several current FINMA ordinances and circulars.


Capital Markets

Bond issuers will retain quick access to Swiss debt capital market under new regime
  • Switzerland
  • 22 October 2019

As part of its effort to meet EU-equivalent standards, Switzerland is in the process of implementing a comprehensive reform package which will fundamentally change the Swiss financial market regulatory framework and introduce the country's first harmonised and coherent prospectus regulation. The new regime will ensure that bond issuers will continue to have efficient and quick access to the Swiss debt capital market – one of the legislature's key goals.

EU equivalence assessment of Swiss stock exchanges
  • Switzerland
  • 16 July 2019

The Federal Department of Finance recently announced that it was activating the measures adopted by the Swiss Federal Council to protect the Swiss stock exchange infrastructure in anticipation of the expiration of the stock market equivalence granted by the European Commission. Notably, the protective measures do not affect companies with registered offices in Switzerland that are listed and traded exclusively on exchanges outside Switzerland.

Non-public offerings in Switzerland – an endangered species?
  • Switzerland
  • 14 May 2019

If everything goes according to plan, on 1 January 2020 Switzerland will have successfully overhauled its financial market legislation with the entry into force of the Financial Services Act and the Financial Institutions Act. An important element of the overhaul is the introduction of a new comprehensive and harmonised prospectus regime. However, the question remains as to whether non-public offerings as a species will survive in Switzerland.

New emergency measures to protect Swiss stock exchange infrastructure
  • Switzerland
  • 18 December 2018

In order to facilitate EU investment firms' access to trade Swiss shares on Swiss stock exchanges and limit the potential negative impact on the Swiss stock exchange infrastructure once Switzerland loses EU third-country equivalence, the Federal Council recently enacted emergency measures that will take effect from 1 January 2019. Any wilful or negligent breach of the recognition requirement under the new ordinance may result in criminal penalties against foreign trading venues and their responsible bodies.

Revised notices of the SIX disclosure office
  • Switzerland
  • 20 November 2018

The Disclosure Office of the SIX Exchange Regulation recently published useful guidance on its practice relating to certain provisions in the recently enacted Financial Market Infrastructure Act and the related implementing ordinance (the Swiss Financial Markets Supervisory Authority Financial Market Infrastructure Ordinance). The entry into force of the two federal laws has resulted in substantive amendments to some of the disclosure office's notices.


Competition & Antitrust

Contributed by Lenz & Staehelin
Secretariat of ComCo advises on obligation to notify concentration
  • 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.

COVID-19 crisis: guidelines for dealing with antitrust risk
  • Switzerland
  • 23 April 2020

Companies in a wide range of industries are facing major challenges due to the COVID-19 crisis. Such challenges include strongly increased or decreased demand, possible supply chain bottlenecks and even supply shortages. Although the situation is exceptional, antitrust rules still apply. The only exceptions are if the government and authorities order measures to combat the COVID-19 crisis that restrict competition.

Federal Supreme Court examines margin squeeze under Swiss competition law
  • Switzerland
  • 20 February 2020

The Federal Supreme Court recently confirmed that Swisscom had abused its dominant position by charging abusive prices for wholesale broadband services between 2001 and 2007. Swisscom was found to have left its competitors no possibility to gain a sufficient profit margin between the wholesale prices charged by Swisscom and their retail prices (so-called 'margin squeeze'). This was the court's first judgment where it examined a margin squeeze under Swiss competition law.

Low fine for vertical price fixing against Swiss ski manufacturer after leniency application
  • Switzerland
  • 14 November 2019

The Competition Commission (ComCo) recently fined a Swiss manufacturer of skis and other sporting goods Sfr140,000 for vertical price fixing with its dealers. The fine was rather low, as the manufacturer had filed a leniency application and entered into an amicable settlement with ComCo. This settlement decision underscores ComCo's strict approach vis-à-vis hardcore vertical agreements and sheds light on how ComCo views restrictions of selective (online) distribution in Switzerland.

ComCo reduces antitrust fines due to damages compensation paid to cartel victims
  • Switzerland
  • 26 September 2019

The Competition Commission (ComCo) recently closed its investigations into bid rigging in the construction industry and issued fines of Sfr11 million, an amount which would have been much higher had the commission not deducted the damages compensation paid by the cartelists to the victims from its claims. By introducing the possibility of compensating cartel victims for damages in antitrust proceedings, ComCo has chosen to advocate civil antitrust law to the detriment of its leniency programme.