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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.

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Legal Developments in Switzerland

Legal Developments and updates from the leading lawyers in each jurisdiction. To contribute, send an email request to
  • Minder-Initiative – need for action?

    On March 3, 2013, the Swiss people voted in a nationwide ballot in favor of the so called “rip-off” initiative by the businessman-turned-politician Thomas Minder...
  • Dividing estates: Auction of a property by heirs or by the State?

    Dividing an estate can be - depending on its complexity and on the behavior of the heirs - quite complicated. Swiss Law gives a possibility to heirs and/or executors to call upon the State authorities to assist them in liquidating the deceased person's estate.
  • Foreign insolvency administrators in Switzerland: The narrow and rocky path to claim recovery

    Foreign insolvency administrators facing the task of recovering assets located in Switzerland typically find themselves in an uncomfortable legal situation since:
  • Collaboration between the communities in the Canton of Zurich

    Much importance is attached to the collaboration between the different communities in the Canton of Zurich. There is hardly any community today which, because of the number and complexity of their obligations, does not need to find it necessary to collaborate.
  • Inheritance contracts under Swiss law: A valuable and binding instrument for international estates

    Inheritance contracts are only one possibility among many other matters to be kept in mind when trying to regulate one's own estate. Estate planning is, however, much more than just drawing up a will or setting up a trust or an inheritance contract. Estate planning has to be understood as an overall plan to regulate matters, while keeping in mind the possibility of retirement and the certainty of death with all appropriate consideration to the different areas of law. Following a decision recently published by the Swiss Federal Supreme Court, this article tries to summarize the most important issues regarding inheritance contracts under Swiss law in an international environment.
  • Provisional measures in Swiss Patent and other intellectual property Laws

    The Swiss Federal Patent Court has recently issued a decision of relevance regarding provisional measures relating to patents. It specifies that, at least in the field of intellectual property – not only patents –, a preliminary injunction may not be obtained in order to ascertain rights on intellectual property.
  • News in limitation legal

    Am 1. Januar 2013 treten die neuen Verjährungsfristen für die Gewährleistung im Kauf­ und werkvertragsrecht in Kraft.
  • News in stock exchange law

    Am 1.1.2013 wird das Börsenrecht verschärft. Die Kontrollprämie bei öffentlichen Übernahmen wird abgeschafft, das Insiderrecht wird ausgedehnt und die FINMA erhält mehr Kompetenzen. ...
  • Cash Pooling - Options to optimize financing

    Als Cash Pooling wird der Liquiditätsausgleich innerhalb einer Unternehmensgruppe bezeichnet. Durch die koordinierte Verwendung von überschüssiger Liquidität von Gesellschaften innerhalb der Gruppe kann die Beanspruchung von Fremdkapital minimiert werden. Ferner können durch das koordinierte Auftreten gegen aussen, insbesondere infolge des grösseren Volumens, bessere Konditionen (Zinsvorteile) erzielt werden. Weniger Fremdkapital zu besseren Konditionen mit entsprechender Senkung der Fremdfinanzierungskosten ist die Folge. War Cash Pooling bis vor einigen Jahren vor allem ein Thema für Multinationals, haben mittlerweile mehr und mehr KMU's die Vorteile des zentralen Finanzmanagements für sich entdeckt. ...
  • From the tighter control of the general terms and conditions to the reforms in e-commerce

    Am 17. Juni 2011 hat das Parlament der Revision des Bundesgesetzes über den unlauteren Wettbewerb zugestimmt, wodurch unlautere Geschäftspraktiken konsequenter unterbunden werden sollen. Die Revision umfasst einerseits Bestimmungen zu den sog. «Adressbuchschwindeleien», führt die erforderlichen Angaben beim elektronischen Geschäftsverkehr auf und schränkt die Verwendung missbräuchlicher Geschäftsbedingungen gegenüber Konsumenten strikter ein. Das vorliegende Kurz & Bündig gibt einen Überblick über die wichtigsten Neuerungen, welche gemäss Bundesratsbeschluss vom 12. Oktober 2011 am 1. April 2012 in Kraft treten werden, mit Ausnahme der Bestimmung über die allgemeinen Geschäftsbedingungen (AGB), welche erst auf den 1. Juli 2012 in Kraft gesetzt werden. ...

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