The Legal 500

Switzerland

Editorial

Legal market overview

Geneva and Zurich are the key legal centres of Switzerland, with Basel, Berne, Lugano and Lausanne also featuring prominently. Zurich, the country’s largest city and its financial centre, is home to the majority of leading banking and capital markets lawyers. Geneva, in the French-speaking west, is the location of choice for many international organisations for arbitration and litigation.

Switzerland’s banking and private client markets were rocked in August 2013 by a joint statement issued by the Swiss Federal Department of Finance and the US Department of Justice regarding a programme to encourage Swiss banks to co-operate in DoJ’s ongoing investigation into the use of foreign bank accounts for tax evasion.

Language barriers between the German-speaking east of the country, the Francophone west and the Italian-speaking area in the south shape the legal landscape, and mean that most of the national law firms have several offices across the different regions.

Geneva-based firm Lalive opened an office in Zurich and hired two well-known partners from Walder Wyss Ltd, while the latter firm opened a new office in Lugano. Both firms are part of a well-established group of national players which includes Baker & McKenzie, Bär & Karrer AG, Homburger, Lenz & Staehelin, Niederer Kraft & Frey AG and Schellenberg Wittmer Ltd. CMS now has an office in Geneva as well as Zurich following its merger in January 2014 with ZPG Avocats.

Press releases

The latest news direct from law firms. If you would like to submit press releases for your firm, send an email request to

Legal Developments in Switzerland

Legal Developments and updates from the leading lawyers in each jurisdiction. To contribute, send an email request to

Press Releases in Switzerland

The latest news direct from law firms. If you would like to submit press releases for your firm, send an email request to
  • 1 August 2014: Walder Wyss opens office in Basel

    Following the opening of our offices in Lugano in 2013, Walder Wyss has further expanded its operations with the opening of new offices in Basel.  We warmly welcome our new team which consists of 12 experienced legal professionals and 9 staff members.
  • There are boundaries to exchange of tax information

    Under pressure from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), states known for their investors-friendly tax systems (so called ‘tax havens') for some years have been concluding tax information exchange agreements enabling, in some circumstances, access to information of substantial significance for tax basis, assessment and collection. Poland for instance concluded such agreements with Andorra, Belize, Bahamas, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Gibraltar, Grenada, Guernsey, Cayman Islands, Liberia, San Marino and Isle of Man.
  • Swiss entity represented by NKF prevails in administrative proceedings commenced against it by SECO

    The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs SECO has decided to terminate its extensive investigation proceedings conducted against a Swiss entity with major global operations for an alleged circumvention of sanctions without taking any action. In a case with an extremely complex and intertwined factual set up taking place in several different countries, the Swiss entity, represented by NKF, succeeded in demonstrating to the authorities that the alleged misconduct lacked any basis and that, in particular, most of the alleged activity was not even comprised by the sanctions, which the SECO had initially deemed circumvented.
  • NKF advises OC Oerlikon Corporation in the successful completion of the acquisition of Sulzer Metco

    On 31 January 2014 OC Oerlikon has announced the execution of an agreement with Sulzer to buy the Sulzer Metco Division at an enterprise value of CHF 1.0 billion. Niederer Kraft & Frey AG has acted as lead legal transaction counsel of OC Oerlikon in this important transaction. OC Oerlikon Corporation AG, Pfäffikon is listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange and a leading high-tech industrial group specializing in machine and plant engineering. Sulzer Metco is a leading provider of surface solutions with global presence. The combination of Metco with OC Oerlikon's existing Coating Segment shall form a world technology leader in Surface Solutions. The acquisition successfully closed on 2 June 2014.
  • Niederer Kraft & Frey advises GlaxoSmithKline plc on its major three-part transaction with Novartis

    Niederer Kraft & Frey advises GlaxoSmithKline plc (GSK) on Swiss law matters in the GSK-Novartis asset swap (Vaccines, Oncology) and joint venture (Consumer Healthcare) transaction.
  • SFS announces IPO on SIX Swiss Exchange

    SFS Group announced today the launch of its initial public offering ("IPO") on SIX Swiss Exchange with the publication of the offering and listing memorandum and the start of the bookbuilding process. Start of trading is expected on 7 May 2014.
  • SFS shares start trading on SIX Swiss Exchange

    SFS Group announced on 23 April 2014 the launch of its initial public offering ("IPO") on SIX Swiss Exchange with the publication of the offering and listing memorandum and the start of the bookbuilding procedure.
  • Shares of HIAG Immobilien Holding AG start trading on SIX Swiss Exchange

    On 6 May 2014, HIAG Immobilien Holding AG announced the launch of its initial public offering ("IPO") on SIX Swiss Exchange with the publication of the offering and listing memorandum and the start of the bookbuilding procedure.
  • Private placement of Newron Pharmaceuticals S.p.A.

    On 7 April 2014, SIX Swiss Exchange listed biopharmaceutical company Newron Pharmaceuticals S.p.A. headquartered in Bresso/Milan, Italy, has announced that in connection with a private placement it has raised gross proceeds of CHF 18.6 mio., following the subscription by current institutional shareholders and new institutional investors joining from Europe and the US. The private placement was conducted without preferential subscription rights to institutional investors. The subscription price was set at CHF 15.75 per share, marginally below the closing price of Newron's shares on 3 April 2014 of CHF 15.80.
  • NKF advised Capvis and Partners Group in the successful completion of a transaction to acquire VAT

    Niederer Kraft & Frey AG advised Capvis, the leading private equity firm in Switzerland, and Partners Group, the global private markets investment management firm, in a transaction to acquire Vat Holding AG, the global market leader in the development, manufacture and sale of vacuum valves, headquartered in Switzerland. The transaction successfully closed on 11 February 2014.