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Conciliation: A Crucial Step in the Legal Process in Switzerland

In Switzerland, most disputes require an attempt at conciliation, with some exceptions such as divorces, debt collection and bankruptcy procedures, clear cases, and banning orders. Before resorting to the court, a conciliation procedure must be attempted. Parties can mutually agree to waive this procedure if the disputed amount is at least Fr. 100,000. During the hearing, the plaintiff presents their claims orally, and then the defendant can respond. Subsequently, the conciliator proposes a compromise, with the option for the parties to demand a reservation of revocation to have time to consider.

To initiate a conciliation procedure, a written request must be submitted to the competent authority or to the Federal Office of Justice (FOJ), at The competent authority is that of the domicile of the person or the registered office of the company subject to the complaint. The costs of the procedure depend on the disputed amount and are regulated at the cantonal level. The conciliation procedure can be free of charge in matters of lease according to federal law.


During the hearing, the presence of the parties is generally required, but they can be accompanied by a trusted person or a lawyer. If a party is absent without valid reason, the procedure may be considered withdrawn or proceed directly to the "impossible conciliation" stage.


Parties should prepare by bringing relevant documents and comparing their position with that of the opposing party. The procedure can end with an agreement and compromise, or with authorization to proceed, allowing the plaintiff to go to court within three months. Upon request of the plaintiff, the conciliation authority can also issue a final decision for disputes below 2000 Swiss francs or make a proposal for judgment for disputes up to 5000 Swiss francs, which becomes final if not rejected within 20 days.


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