CD: Could you outline some of the current market challenges at the centre of commercial disputes in Switzerland? What recurring themes are you seeing?

 Feller: We have seen an increase in complex bankruptcy-related litigation in Switzerland. This development comes in the wake of some spectacular and high-profile bankruptcy cases in our jurisdiction – SAirGroup with the national airline ‘Swissair’, Lehman Group, Petroplus Group, Erb Group amongst others. These events have triggered several court cases with liquidators testing traditional concepts of officer’s liability and bankruptcy claw-back provisions under Swiss law. Related to this, we are experiencing ongoing litigation in connection with directors and officer’s insurance claims but also more basic while still challenging cases on jurisdictional issues which are a direct consequence of the ever-growing interconnectedness of market participants worldwide. Lastly, the recent building boom in Switzerland has led to some increased activity in relation to construction related disputes.

 CD: What is your advice to companies on implementing an effective dispute resolution strategy to deal with conflict, taking in the pros and cons of in-court versus out-of-court methods?

 Feller: Our advice to clients is to conclude sound jurisdiction clauses, ensuring that their case will be heard by competent and experienced courts. Switzerland fortunately has a well organised and competent state court system that allows for speedy proceedings. Further, Swiss law is perceived as containing a balanced set of rules upholding liberal principles such as the freedom of contract that are highly esteemed by the business community. 

Jan-Mar 2014 issue

Prager Dreifuss Ltd