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17 July 2020

Will English soon be admissible in the Swiss Supreme Court in arbitral proceedings?

In the context of revising Chapter 12 of the Private International Law Act (PILA) on international arbitration, the Swiss Parliament accepted, on 19 June 2020,  an amendment to the Federal Supreme Court Act (FSCA) which provides that all documents submitted to the Federal Supreme Court in the context of arbitrations may be drafted in English (new Art. 77 para. 1 introductory sentence and 2 bis FSCA). The referendum deadline is set for 8 October 2020.

Currently, in appeal or review proceedings, the Federal Supreme Court accepts, with the agreement of the parties, that annexes to pleadings can be produced in English. However, the pleadings themselves must be filed in one of the official languages - i.e. in French, German, Italian or Romansh.

The legislative amendment will mean that the parties, many of whom use English in their arbitration proceedings, will not have to bear the substantial translation costs for any submissions to be filed in the event of an appeal or review before the Federal Supreme Court.

In the absence of a referendum, the amendment to the Federal Supreme Court Act is due to come into force in the course of 2021.

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