Swiss Civil Procedure Law in a Nutshell (Volume 8 of 12)
This blog series provides litigators and corporate counsel from other jurisdictions with a practical understanding of the mechanics, advantages, and limits of litigation before State Courts in Switzerland.
Levels of Appeal
There are usually two levels of appeal: a decision rendered by a District Court is normally appealable to the Cantonal Court of Appeal. If the amount in dispute totals at least 30,000 Swiss francs, the decision of the Cantonal Court of Appeal is, again, subject to appeal to the Federal Supreme Court.
Only one level of appeal exists concerning proceedings before a Commercial Court that has jurisdiction as sole cantonal instance for commercial disputes: if the amount in dispute totals at least 30,000 Swiss francs, the decision is directly appealable to the Federal Supreme Court. In exceptional cases, e.g., if there are fundamental questions to be decided, an appeal to the Federal Supreme Court is also possible in cases where the amount in dispute is less than 30'000 Swiss Francs.
Comprehensive Review on Cantonal Level
Cantonal Courts of appeal are entitled to comprehensively review matters of fact and law. New facts and new evidence are, however, only considered if the party submits them immediately and if they could not have been submitted before the lower Court despite reasonable diligence (art. 317(1) CPC).
Limited Review by the Federal Supreme Court
By contrast, the Federal Supreme Court only reviews limited matters of law and fact: Federal and international law, some aspects of cantonal law as well as the question whether the lower Court wrongly refrained from applying a foreign law are subject to judicial review. Further, the Federal Supreme Court may review whether the lower Court established the facts in a manifestly wrong way. Generally, the parties are not permitted to submit new facts and evidence. The Federal Supreme Court will consider new facts and evidence only if the decision of the lower Court gave rise to the assertion of new facts.
Duration of Appeal Proceedings
How long appeal proceedings take depends mostly on the kind of decision, namely, whether the Court of Appeal dismisses the appeal for formal reasons without dealing with the merits of the case, whether it decides the case on the merits, or whether it annuls the judgment and sends the case back to the lower Court. Furthermore, the duration of appellate proceedings depends on the size and complexity of the case, the parties' conduct, as well as the Court's workload. Appellate proceedings generally take approximately one to two years, but in a complex case they may take much longer.