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Legal market overview
The Swiss legal market is characterised by two important factors that also define Switzerland as a whole: stability and a decentralised structure. Zurich, the country’s largest city and location of the principal stock exchange, is home to the majority of leading banking and capital markets lawyers. It is located in Switzerland’s German-speaking region, in which Basel and the capital Bern are also significant legal centres.
Geneva, the country’s second largest city, with its many private banks and international organisations, is home to many leading banking and international arbitration lawyers. It is located in the French-speaking West, where Lausanne is another important legal centre. Also noteworthy is Lugano, the legal centre of the Italian-speaking region in the southeast.
Among the top seven law firms in Switzerland, only Bär & Karrer AG has a presence in all three language regions. Baker & McKenzie, Lenz & Staehelin and Schellenberg Wittmer Ltd have offices in the German and the French-speaking parts, while Walder Wyss Ltd has a presence in the German and the Italian-speaking regions. Homburger and Niederer Kraft & Frey AG are based in Zurich only, but are nevertheless among the top law firms.
The stability of the Swiss legal market was rocked when most lawyers of Wenger Plattner’s Basel office left the firm to open a new office for Walder Wyss Ltd in August 2014.
Another challenge for Swiss traditions is the continuing international pressure to disclose information about bank accounts potentially used for tax evasion. Most prominent is the US Department of Justice Program for Non-Prosecution Agreements or Non-Target Letters for Swiss banks, but pressure from Germany and France is also increasing. This, however, has kept the country’s banking and tax lawyers very busy.
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Background of the Reform
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 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 facing the task of recovering assets located in Switzerland typically find themselves in an uncomfortable legal situation since:
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 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.
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.
Am 1. Januar 2013 treten die neuen Verjährungsfristen für die Gewährleistung im Kauf und werkvertragsrecht in Kraft.
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. ...
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. ...
Tencent has acquired ownership in Miniclip Group SA. Headquartered in Neuchâtel, Switzerland, Miniclip is a digital games company which develops, publishes and distributes mobile and online games to around 70 million monthly active users across mobile, social and online platforms. Tencent, listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, is one of the largest internet companies worldwide based on market capitalization and provides services such as social networks, web portals, e-commerce, and multiplayer online games.
Valora has completed the acquisition of LS Distribution Suisse, which holds all shares in Naville, the leading integrated small-outlet retailer in French-speaking Switzerland. Naville operates an outlet network encompassing more than 175 units and also has one of the main logistics platforms in French-speaking Switzerland.
Capita, a UK leader in business process management and outsourcing solutions, has successfully completed its previously announced acquisition of avocis, a leading provider of customer contact management services in Germany, Switzerland and Austria, from its former owners.
On 22 April 2014, Novartis announced that it had agreed to acquire GlaxoSmithKline's (GSK) oncology products and to divest its vaccines business (excluding flu) to GSK. Moreover, Novartis and GSK had agreed to combine Novartis OTC and GSKs consumer health businesses in a joint venture. In a separate transaction, Novartis had agreed to divest its animal health business to Eli Lilly.
We are pleased to announce that Désirée Wiesendanger became partner of the firm on January 1, 2015. She specializes in financial markets law.
Bär & Karrer is delighted to announce that, as of 1 February 2015, Robert J. Danon, Professor of Swiss and International Tax Law at the University of Lausanne, will join Bär & Karrer as Counsel and further strengthen its tax practice group.
Michele Bernasconi, partner at Bär & Karrer, was recently assigned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to lead the first hearing in a CAS matter held at the court's Abu Dhabi branch. The case related to an Indian swimmer that filed an appeal with CAS against a sanction of two years ban, imposed by the Indian National Anti-Doping Agency.
Tina Wüstemann, who heads Bär & Karrer's private client department, was honored in the 2015 Citywealth Power Women Awards, which took place in London on 22 January 2015. She won a Silver Award in the category "Woman of the Year: Leadership (Professional services)". Awards were handed out to individuals and companies that support female leadership and diversity within the wealth management sector. The winners were selected from a shortlist of candidates drawn up by ten judges, all prominent figures from the wealth industry. Additional online voting was verified by an independent third Party.
Walgreen Co., the largest drug store chain in the United States, has completed the acquisition of the remaining 55% equity ownership in Alliance Boots GmbH, the Swiss parent company of a leading international pharmacy-led health and beauty group. Walgreens had acquired 45% in Alliance Boots GmbH in 2012 with the option to proceed to a full combination by acquiring the remaining 55%.
We are pleased to announce that we elected Daniel Leu as partner as of 1 January 2015. Daniel Leu, a Certified Inheritance Law Specialist, advises private clients on corporate and estate planning, on the handling of estates, in connection with foundations and trusts and on questions in connection with the place of residence. Other areas of work include advising clients who buy or sell real estate in Switzerland and art law.