In one comprehensive bill, the Federal Council addressed the concerns of the Financial Action Task Force and the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes with regard to the transparency of legal entities. The proposed measures would not only replace a system that was introduced merely three years ago and has proven to be effective, but would also entail severe consequences for approximately 60,000 companies in Switzerland.
According to a new Federal Supreme Court decision, securing an advantageous place of jurisdiction in Switzerland (so-called 'forum running') in an international dispute is of sufficient interest for an action seeking a negative declaratory judgment. This new precedent enables parties domiciled in Switzerland to anticipate foreign proceedings initiated by a counterparty by filing an action for a negative declaratory judgment to drag the case before a court in Switzerland.
The invocation of the safeguard clause contained in the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons activated a quota system for B-permits for Romanian and Bulgarian nationals who take up a gainful activity or set up as self-employed workers in Switzerland. The Federal Council recently decided that the issuance procedure for such B-permits will remain in force for an additional year.
Various amendments to Swiss environmental statutes and ordinances have recently entered into effect or will come into effect in the foreseeable future. These new measures include certain amendments to the Energy Act, the Water Protection Ordinance, the Ordinance on the Prevention and the Disposal of Waste and the Ordinance on Protection against Major Accidents.
Switzerland and Brazil recently signed a double taxation agreement, which is a major achievement for both countries and has been a long-standing demand of the private sector. The new agreement will significantly increase Switzerland's attractiveness for Latin American investments and provide investors with legal certainty in tax matters.
Employers in Switzerland must provide work references that allow former employees to obtain new employment positions and may be liable for any false or overly negative work references that harm an employee's job search. As reviews of potential candidates' online profiles are common, the question remains as to whether candidates and employers may be held liable for professional recommendations posted on (for example) LinkedIn.
As part of Switzerland's efforts to meet EU equivalence requirements, the Swiss legislature is working on a new federal Financial Services Act. Under the act, which may enter into force as early as mid-2019, a comprehensive and harmonised prospectus regime will be introduced and will be applicable to all public offerings of financial instruments and all securities admitted to trading on a trading platform in Switzerland.
In a recently published decision, the Supreme Court set aside an arbitral award on the grounds that the arbitral tribunal had wrongly accepted jurisdiction. Once the existence of an arbitration agreement is established, its scope and content are broadly construed under the assumption that, if they chose to enter into an arbitration agreement, the parties intended to have an arbitral tribunal with broad jurisdiction.
Swiss legislation provides for adequate compensation for considerable advantages and disadvantages resulting from spatial planning measures. In particular, land that is newly allocated to a building zone substantially increases in value. Owners of such land will benefit from spatial planning activities without any contribution on their part. For reasons of fairness, these benefits are subject to a levy which is supposed to 'skim off' part of the added value.
A revised version of the federal Ordinance on Internet Domains recently entered into force. It gives the responsible registries the possibility of temporarily blocking the top-level domain names '.ch' and '.swiss' where they are being used for phishing or malware activities. In addition, anti-cybercrime services can request that registries block the domain names. However, these services require prior recognition from the Swiss Federal Office of Communications.
Public takeover offers are regarded as competing offers if, at the time of their publication, another offer in relation to the target has already been launched. To guarantee freedom of choice of the recipients of the offers, and to avoid the sequence of offers influencing the shareholders' decision, the law sets forth specific rules for competing offers. In the recent LifeWatch case, the Takeover Board took its position on issues relating to multiple offerors.
The government has adopted Tax Proposal 17, a new proposal for corporate tax reform. The purpose of this new proposal is to set the basis for new rules on Swiss corporate taxation and to secure and enhance Switzerland's overall attractiveness as a business location. Under Tax Proposal 17, Switzerland will repeal the existing special corporate tax regimes. As opposed to the proposal that was rejected in February 2017, the current proposal appears to have attracted wider political support.
The Supreme Court has for the first time interpreted the provisions on the pricing of change orders in the most widely used Swiss standard form contract, the SIA Norm 118. But the decision also has wider ramifications for Swiss law construction contracts. It makes clear that it should be assumed that parties to a lump-sum contract intended to contractually regulate the effect on the contract price of a unilateral change order, even if the terms of the contract are ambiguous.
The Supreme Court recently dealt with the scope of a full and final settlement clause in an insurance matter. The decision confirms the rules for interpreting settlement agreements in insurance matters and emphasises the importance of carefully drafting the wording of such agreements if they are intended to be full and final settlement agreements of certain insurance claims.
The Federal Supreme Court recently rendered a landmark decision preventing the Swiss Federal Tax Administration from transmitting un-redacted bank files to the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) which contained information on third parties which had allegedly helped a US taxpayer to defraud the IRS. What is of particular interest to white collar crime practitioners is the emphasis put on the distinction between administrative assistance in tax matters versus legal assistance in criminal matters.
In a recently published decision, the Supreme Court set aside an arbitral award on the grounds that the parties had not consented to submit their dispute to arbitration. The decision shows the importance of the distinction between a subjective and objective interpretation. Awards should thus clearly identify for each finding of contractual interpretation whether it stems from subjective or objective interpretation.
Under Swiss employment law, employees are entitled to only three fully paid care days for an ill child; there is no regulation for parents, siblings or partners. Switzerland is not as generous as other countries regarding care leave, although some Swiss companies offer staff spontaneous and pragmatic solutions to family emergencies. However, US companies in Switzerland, such as Google and Microsoft, offer a number of weeks' paid care leave per year.
Switzerland has become a major hub for initial coin offerings (ICOs). Yet to date, there has been little clarity about the resulting tax implications. Recent discussions and tax ruling negotiations with representatives of several tax authorities in Switzerland have provided more clarity on the tax implications of ICOs, at least regarding tokens issued by Swiss companies raising funds under the promise of a participation in future revenues.
The Federal Council recently decided on how to implement a new admission system to exercise immigration control without conflicting with the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons between Switzerland and the European Union. The new regulations introduce a job registration requirement for job types in which the unemployment rate throughout Switzerland has reached a specific threshold. The change aims to optimise and exploit the potential of national workers.
Construction lawyers are frequently called on to draft or interpret extension of time clauses. But the questions of what should be in these clauses, and why they are typically included in construction contracts in the first place, receive little attention. When drafting an extension of time clause, parties will want to carefully consider whether and how to address a number of specific issues.