The river cruise industry is without doubt one of the sectors that has been hit hardest by COVID-19 measures. Charterers and tour operators have been confronted with the fact that cruises which they have sold to their customers and want to continue to sell cannot be carried out as intended and the question arises as to whether they will still have to pay the contractual charter rate despite the current situation. This article provides an overview of the legal situation under Swiss law.
Of the 359 vessels which were registered in 2018 (not including day-trip vessels), 153 were registered in Switzerland, making it one of the major hubs in European inland cruising. Financing institutions and other investors regularly secure their investments by means of Swiss ship mortgages. This article provides a short overview of the legal situation regarding ship mortgages under Swiss law and basic information for foreign investors and banks.
The Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) recently opened a consultation procedure on the Strasbourg Convention on the Limitation of Liability in Inland Navigation 2012 and its implementation (ie, an amendment to the Swiss Maritime Navigation Act). The FDFA's proposal has been welcomed and is considered a necessary step towards Switzerland ensuring a level playing field for the inland navigation industry.
A potentially groundbreaking Federal Supreme Court ruling suggests that the notorious Gini/Durlemann practice may soon be abolished. If so, transport insurers would no longer be limited in Switzerland with regard to recourses against carriers or freight forwarders causing damage. In its justification, the court explicitly and decisively relied on the political intent to abolish the practice and referred to the planned new Article 95(c) of the Insurance Contract Act.
Survey reports are an essential part of any claims handling process and an important factor in court proceedings. The Code on Civil Procedure provides for numerous clauses of admissible means of evidence. However, party assertions are not listed among these means of evidence. A recent Federal Supreme Court decision suggests that survey reports, at least if prepared by one party alone, could be considered as mere party assertions, thus rendering them useless in court.