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A Guide to Swiss Courts

A Guide to Swiss Courts

Updated on Monday 21st September 2015

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The Swiss laws are governed by the Federal Constitution. The Federal Constitution covers all the rules that govern the good functioning of the Swiss Confederation and formulates the responsibility of each authority. At a federal level we find the Federal Parliament, the Federal Council and the Federal Tribunals in charge of the judiciary system.

 The judicial system in Switzerland is made of the Supreme Court, the Criminal Court and the Administrative Court.

If you need representation our Swiss lawyers can provide you the necessary legal assistance.

The Swiss Federal Supreme Court

The Supreme Court is the highest ranked in the judicial system of Switzerland and is established in Lausanne. It acts as a court of appeal for all rulings made by the cantonal courts. The Supreme Court usually is made of 3 or 5 judges depending on the matter.

According to the Swiss Constitution, the Supreme Court can rule in cases of federal laws, public national and international laws, cantonal laws, cantonal rights, federal and cantonal corporate or political rights.

However, the Swiss Supreme Court does not have the authority to rule over laws issued by the Federal Parliament.

The Swiss Criminal Court

The Criminal Court in Switzerland is the first trial instance is cases of criminal laws and is located in Bellinzona. The Swiss Criminal Court is composed of the Penal Chamber, the Appeal Chamber and a General Secretariat. It has an Office of Chief of Justice, a Plenary Assembly and an Administrative Commission acting as executive body.

The Criminal Court’s Penal Chamber rules over accusations of federal crimes specified in the Criminal Procedure Code (articles 23 and 24). This institution is in charge with reviewing criminal proceedings.

The Swiss Administrative Court

The Administrative Court in Switzerland acts as an appeal authority that reviews the rulings of the federal authorities and sometimes of cantonal authorities and is located temporarily in Berne.

The Swiss Administrative Court was organized so that it could replace the boards of appeal ruling over different departments in the Federal Administration.  It can rule over infrastructure, education, health, economy, and asylum issues.

At cantonal level the judicial system is organized in civil, criminal or administrative courts of first instance and appeals. The judges are elected for six years and can be reelected as well.


If you want information about the legislative system or you simply want to start a business, you can contact our law firm in Switzerland.



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