E-commerce entry in Switzerland or in the United States

In the U.S.:

Preliminary checklist:

Consult the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

Consult the Better Business Bureau Code of Online Business Practices

Antitrust & competition law (both federal and state)

Privacy laws (both federal and state)

Contractual terms and conditions (conditions générales in French): like terms for payment, delivery, allocation of risk of loss, warranties, governing law, dispute resolution processes (have to be carefully tailored to the transactions at hand, thus no copy-paste from another website)

Agencies to contact or to consult (federal and state, linked to the e-commerce practice envisioned)

State registration requirements

Exigencies depending on the sale audience (businesses, consumers, children)

Doing business in California: Information, links and incentives for business owners considering locating in California; type of business, county, and city for a list of required permits and agency contacts; Resources for business start-ups in California and nationwide; Forms, samples, information about forming corporations and other businesses, trademarks, UCC filings, and more:

Import/export (Switzerland to U.S.)


Plan, Launch, Manage, Grow your business : U.S. Small Business Administration:
Funding Programs: Lender Match is a free online referral tool that connects small businesses with participating SBA-approved lenders:

Export Risk Insurance:

Exercising CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) also brings benefits for example when participating in public tenders or using Swiss Export Risk Insurance services.

Swiss Export Risk Insurance (SERV)

When evaluating insurance applications, SERV (https://www.serv-ch.com/en/ ) prioritizes OECD Guidelines on sustainable lending to low-income countries, as well as environmental, social and human rights aspects, and anti-corruption. In the process, it draws on the SERV’s Guidelines for reviewing environmental, social and human rights issues and above all takes into account the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, including any reports presented by the National Contact Point of Switzerland.

Standards Map provides information on over 210 standards, codes of conduct, audit protocols addressing sustainability hotspots in global supply chains.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection:
Basic Importing and Exporting.
For the Trade Community, including rulings and legal decisions (i.e. binding advance rulings), the Customs Bulletin and Decisions (a weekly compilation of decisions, rulings, regulations, notices, and abstracts concerning customs and related matters of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Court of International Trade, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit), and an archive of trade-related Federal Register Notices (provides the public with additional guidance concerning the importation of merchandise into the United States).
E-Allegations: online trade violation reporting system.

Once done: regularly monitor compliance.

October 10, 2008, Joint Declaration of the Swiss Confederation and the United States of America on Cooperation and Promotion regarding Electronic Commerce:

U.S. Federal trade Commission (FTC) website:


-       Premerger Notification Program, to be submitted to the FTC and to the DOJ, according to the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act Amendments to the Clayton Act (cf. coordination in merger investigations with State Attorneys General)
-       Merger Guidelines (2010)
-       Anticompetitive Practices: 1) Horizontal conduct, 2) Single firm conduct. An advanced search page is available to find a specific antitrust case. Also available: 1) Antitrust Guidelines for collaborations among competitors, 2) Antitrust Guidelines for the licensing of Intellectual property, 3) Antitrust Enforcement Guidelines for international operations, issued by the DOJ and the FTC (in April 1995). In addition, the FTC provides guidance concerning proposed conduct in the form of advisory opinions. Cf. also the FTC rules in Title 16 of the CFR


-       Advisory opinions: filters can be used to find a specific opinion
-       In international matters, econsumer.gov can be useful for example to report cross-border complaints (enforcement agencies can use those complaints to investigate fraud)

Tips & Advice:

-       Advertising and Marketing: basics, children, endorsements, online, privacy and security (U.S.-E.U. safe harbor framework)
-       Legal resources: filters to find legal resources like cases, reports, staff opinions, events, by topic, type or industry
-       Competition guidance: resources to help businesses to comply with antitrust laws: 1) The antitrust laws themselves, 2) The enforcers: FTC and DOJ (federal) (for ex. a case of voluntary compliance by entering into a consent order), Attorneys general (states), 3) Suits by private parties, 4) Here is located again the 1995 Antitrust Enforcement Guidelines for International Operations, 5) Dealing with competitors (Antitrust Guidelines for Collaboration among Competitors (39 p.) (price fixing, bid rigging, market division, customer allocation, group boycotts, etc.), 6) Dealings in the supply chain (vertical relationships): a) manufacturers and imposed requirements, b) exclusive dealing and requirements contracts, c) refusal to supply, 7) Single firm conduct (monopolize, or attempt to monopolize): a) monopolization defined, b) exclusive supply or purchase agreements, c) tying the sale of two products, d) predatory or below-cost pricing, e) refusal to deal

Price Discrimination: Robinson-Patman violations: sellers charging competing buyers different prices for the same commodity (the Act does not apply to services).

Mergers: 1) The greatest antitrust concern arises with proposed mergers between direct competitors (horizontal mergers). Thus the FTC and the DOJ have developed Horizontal Merger Guidelines, and a Commentary on the Horizontal Merger Guidelines. 2) Premerger notification requirements of the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act. Consent agreement may be adequate to resolve issues. If no agreement, the agency may go to federal court to prevent the merger, while an administrative trial on the merits of the deal is ongoing. The FTC website provides a FAQ about merger consent order provisions. 3) Are also considered vertical mergers, which involve firms in a buyer-seller relationship, and potential competition mergers, in which the buyer is likely to enter the market and become a potential competitor of the seller, or vice versa.

In Switzerland:

State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO)
The SECO is the Swiss Confederation’s competence center for all core issues relating to economic policy, including information about i.e. labor, unemployment, recruitment, work permits, products safety, relations with EU, import-export, prices labelling, insurance against export risks, competition and antitrust issues.
The English version of the website needs still to be developed.

Small & medium-sized enterprises: the Swiss official website:

Starting a venture: choice of a commercial name, choice of a trademark for the goods & services marketed, potential confusion issues with other ventures, actual use of the trademark necessary for keeping it protected, judicial relief, issue preclusion, conditions of publication of the judgment (cf. as an example the Swiss High Court decision 4A_257/2014, released Sept. 29, 2014, Arthursgroup SA v. Swiss Arthur Prod SA).

Swiss Intellectual Property database (International trademark registrations with effect in Switzerland are not contained in this database: for those, cf. WIPO website).

Commercial registers in Switzerland (with various search options)
Certified excerpts of the registry of commerce have to be ordered directly from the Cantonal registry of commerce where the legal entity has its domicile.

Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property
The federal government’s central point of contact for all questions linked to IP. Full of information for newcomers, swissreg already mentioned, online trademark registration, patent, technology and trademark searches. Initial searches can be done cost-free over the internet in intellectual property rights databases. For more complex queries, it’s better to have a specialist do it. Legal information (publications, bilateral relations (through agreements on trade and economic cooperation (TECA) or free trade agreements (FTA), International cooperation, legislation, court decisions).

Federal Patent Court
Swiss Court of first level in civil matters linked to patents. Second level is the Swiss High Court itself.

World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and its alternative dispute resolution system (mediation, arbitration and expedited arbitration, expert determination, domain name disputes):

Import/Export (U.S. to Switzerland)

Imports in Switzerland:

State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO):

Imports Platform:

(Prescriptions (technical, etc.) to observe)

Portal of Swiss Technical Prescriptions:

Evaluation of conformity: Accreditation:

Swiss Accreditation Service (SAS):

Sales & Marketing from U.S. to Switzerland:

Shipping a product overseas: packing, labeling, documentation, insurance,

Foreign Standards and Certification Information:

Export Licenses:


Protecting Intellectual Property Rights Abroad

https://www.stopfakes.gov/welcome (Intellectual Property Rights Information & Assistance)

U.S. Government International Financing Programs:
E-commerce mediation: the following Swiss office offers without cost its help in case of a claim against a venture, linked to an online purchase. Only condition: to try to settle first.

The web portal ch.ch has a wealth of information and handy tips about living and working in Switzerland, from entry formalities right up to a wage calculator. http://www.swissworld.org/en/faq/working_in_and_doing_business_with_switzerland/

Working in Switzerland as third-country nationals (Self-employed or non-self-employed):

Labor and Work permits: non-EU/EFTA nationals: this useful link directs to the Swiss Secretariat for Migration:

Federal Data Protection and Information Commissioner: the official Swiss agency about data protection. For ex. position about Cloud Computing, E-Privacy (transparency on the Internet), suggestions about E-Commerce, Regulations, requirements and situations about Trans-border data flows, Surveillance in the workplace).

U.S.-Swiss Safe Harbor. A mean for U.S organizations to comply with personal Data Protection Law and regulations in Switzerland. Of interest: Claims brought by Swiss citizens against U.S. organizations will be heard, subject to limited exception, in the United States; Compliance requirements are streamlined and cost-effective, which should particularly benefit small and medium enterprises; Organizations must comply with the seven Safe Harbor Privacy Principles; In general, enforcement of the U.S.-Swiss Safe Harbor will take place in the United States in accordance with U.S. law and will be carried out primarily by the private sector. Private sector self-regulation and enforcement will be backed up as needed by government enforcement of the federal and state unfair and deceptive statutes; The FTC has committed to reviewing on a priority basis referrals received from privacy self-regulatory organizations, such as BBBOnline and TRUSTe, and the Commissioner alleging non-compliance with the Safe Harbor Principles to determine whether Section 5 of the FTC Act prohibiting unfair or deceptive acts or practices in commerce has been violated. If the FTC concludes that is has reason(s) to believe Section 5 has been violated, it may resolve the matter by seeking an administrative cease and desist order prohibiting the challenged practices or by filing a complaint in a federal district court, which if successful could result in a federal court order to same effect.

Swiss Jurisprudence of Interest:

Corporations: members of the board: joint liability in case of illegal conduct of one of its members, no straw man without responsibility, duty to oversee, to call for an extraordinary general assembly if necessary, to resign if necessary (cf. Swiss High Court opinion released Nov. 24, 2014, 9C_442/2014).

Corporations, members of the board: have to be reelected each year, by the assembly of shareholders. This assembly has to be convened by the board (or the auditors). One or several shareholders representing together at least 10% of the capital stock may ask the board for the convening of a general assembly of the shareholders. It has to be asked for in writing, indicating as well the topics to be discussed and the propositions. The board must take the necessary measures to state the right to vote of the shareholders. It has thus to indicate where and when the shareholders will be able to obtain an attestation or an entry card. If the board, duly and regularly asked, refused to convene the assembly, suit before the court can be filed. The judge has subject-matter jurisdiction to order the convening of the general assembly. If the court deliver such an order and if the board still refuse to comply with it, the judge may order the convening by a neutral third party, i.e. a notary. In special circumstances, mainly if swift action is needed, the judge is empowered to order herself the convening of a special assembly of shareholders, without having to designate a neutral third party (cf. opinions of the Swiss High Court, 4A_507/2014, and 4D_73/2014, released Apr. 15, 2015).

Labor law :

Labor dispute : jurisdictional immunity : cf. Swiss High Court decision, October 31, 2014, République A. c. B., 4A_331/2014 (Type E Swiss legitimation card (domestic employees), employment place in Geneva, application of the not yet in force Dec. 2, 2004, U.N. Convention on the jurisdictional immunities of the States: general rule: no immunity for labor disputes when place of employment in Switzerland. But look at a possible application of the European Convention (Bâle) of 1972 on States immunities, and at the Swiss hosting State law of 2007. Are beneficiaries of Diplomatic immunities: individuals exercising “jure imperii” functions).
To search Swiss High Court decisions :

Labor law: is a change of the terms of an employment contract possible while contract is ongoing? Yes, but: the income is due as a counterpart of the work done for employer. By an agreement, parties can decide, during contract time, for example to reduce the amount of salary, the reduction being applicable before the next legal term for termination of contract. Such an agreement is only valid for the future and cannot be linked to work already done by employee. No form is necessary, there is no such thing here as a Statute of Frauds. Very important: true that the judge will be reluctant to admit easily a tacit agreement to reduce the salary due to employee. A tacit agreement could be inferred if employee could have recognized that employer was counting on the employee's tacit agreement and that without such a tacit agreement, employer would have taken definite measures, for instance the termination of the contract. In such a case, employee shall express in an appropriate span of time his/ her disagreement with the reduction of income. See as an example Swiss High Court opinion of March 27, 2015, 4A_434/2014.


Labor: contractual dispute between employer and apprentice: immediate termination for cause, loss of confidence, wrongful termination if trifle reproaches or lack of warnings, no need of a warning before termination if serious violation of contractual obligations, amount in dispute of at least CHF 15’000.- to seize the Swiss High Court in such labor cases, relations with apprentice official commission (cf. Swiss High Court decision 4A_188/2014, released Oct. 8, 2014, A. v. B.)

Racial discrimination : cf. Swiss Penal Code (CP) art. 261 bis

Mandatory pensions plans provided through employment (so called 2nd pillar of the social security system): right of employee (not necessarily employer) to be fully informed of all conditions of the plan, including prospective benefits, financing, management of assets. Repartition of assets in case of liquidation of the plan provider, possibility and conditions to seize official controlling and supervising authorities (federal and state) (to consider especially in case of reduction of the workforce, restructuration, cancellation of the contract with the pension institution). Conditions of possible intervention of the official guaranty fund (“Fonds de garantie LPP”). On those topics, two decisions of the Swiss High Court are worth reading, released the same day, Feb. 20, 2015, 9C_467/2014 and 9C_469/2014).

Digital & data protection:

Tort committed against one’s personal right through Internet (reputation, etc.) : the place in Switzerland where the result of the tort occurred is a distinct forum; a claim can be brought there, and the Court will have subject-matter jurisdiction. Note this caveat : however, as such a place can be everywhere considering that Internet can be read everywhere, something more than the Internet’s availability is needed: thus, ultimately, the competent forum is the one where the economic loss took place, usually the place of abode.
The Swiss Court located where the tort took place also has jurisdiction (Swiss Federal Act on Private International Law, Art. 129).
A natural person is domiciled (1) where she is physically located, (2) with the intent to live at that location.
(cf. Swiss Supreme Court, Sept. 6, 2016, decision 5A_812/2015, in French).

Identity theft, Swiss law, scant dispositions to date, cf. Swiss Penal Code (CP), “escroquerie (art. 146 CP), menace (art. 180 CP), contrainte (art. 181 CP), atteinte à l’honneur (art. 173ss CP), accès indu à un système informatique (art. 143 bis CP), utilisation frauduleuse d’un ordinateur (art. 147 CP), obtention frauduleuse d’une prestation (art. 150 CP) », http://www.admin.ch/bundesrecht/00566/index.html?lang=fr (then look for « CP »)

Police reports containing personal data no longer useful, or which were never usefull: right to ask for their destruction. Each canton has its own system for cancellation. Proceeding weighing the competing interests of society v. private interests. Swiss High Court has jurisdiction in this matter as a court of national last resort. Loss of income recoverable for time spent to litigate the matter? No if party not represented by a lawyer (exception: extraordinary expenditures or extraordinary time spent in the frame of the case (this is a general principle)) (cf. Swiss High Court opinion released Nov. 13, 2014, 1C_363/2014).

Data protection : cf. Swiss Penal Code (CP) art. 179 novies http://www.admin.ch/bundesrecht/00566/index.html?lang=fr (then look for “CP”)


Generally speaking, contracts concluded when parties have reciprocally and concordantly manifested their wills. These manifestations of wills can be implied (Art. 1 Federal Code of Obligations). But be very careful: when offeror had no reason to expect express acceptation due to the special nature of the business or due to the circumstances, contract is deemed concluded if the recipient of the offer has not refused it within a suitable span of time (Art. 6 Federal Code of Obligations). Thus a contract can be concluded by silence, by doing nothing. For an example between a travel agency and a customer, see Swiss High Court opinion, 4_A555/2014, March 12, 2015.

Property law:

Property Law: condominium (In French: Propriété par étages (PPE)): problems linked to work undertaken in connection with common parts, general assembly of the co-owners, how to abide by the law regarding its organization, manner to decide issues, and questions of compensatory damages (ex. in the following court opinion: rents by tenants  delayed due to a legal proceeding lost by opponent of landlord). For this interesting case decided by the Swiss High Court on Nov. 19, 2014, see file 5A_198/2014:


Testate and legal succession: contrary to some other legal systems, spouses and children cannot be utterly bereft of any right (except for cause in very rare cases). If a testamentary item states that the share of one of those legal next of kin is reduced to its legal minimum, what are the first step to do for said next of kin willing to challenge the testament ? To request an official inventory, as was made in the following case. But be careful of the statute of limitations and its computation. (cf. Swiss High Court opinion of Jul. 6, 2012, 5A_184/2012).

Cancellation of a holograph will: for insanity of the deceased at the time of the writing, or if the writing is not the expression of a free will, or is against the law. The dispositions mortis causa are voidable, and not void. Statute of limitation to file suit: 1 year since cause for cancellation was found out. As for grown up, sanity is presumed. Thus the one who wants to contest the last dispositions bears the burden of proof of insanity. The test is tantamount to a preponderance of the evidence. If the deceased person was mentally ill, insanity is presumed, and the one who wants to maintain the last wills bears the burden of proof of sanity. A medical appraisal is decisive with respect to the burden of proof and with respect to the medical facts. It is eventually up to the court to decide the ultimate question of the validity of the will. For an example in the Swiss High Court jurisprudence: cf. 5A_859/2014, opinion released on March 17, 2015.

Landlords and Tenants:

Termination of L./T. agreement possible even if a small sum of money, amounting to a trifle, is due by Tenant to Landlord. Good faith exception very restrictively admitted by courts. No extra time given if termination follows a formal notice to pay which notification is compelled by the law (see decision of the Swiss High Court released Nov. 19, 2014, 4A_271/2014).


Swiss federal law providing assistance to injured victims and to her/his relatives (physical and psychical damages), known in French by its abbreviation “LAVI” (loi fédérale sur l’aide aux victimes d’infractions)

Emotional distress and non-pecuniary damage: traffic accident, driver (not at fault) heavily injured, loss of income, disability, compensation of emotional distress: as for that last count: physical or psychical injury as a precondition, has to be fair, taking into account the breadth of the injury, its type and gravity, its intensity and lasting effects on the personality as well as on the professional abilities.  The comparative faults of the parties are also relevant (Art. 47 Swiss obligations Code). But bad faith behavior during litigation is not considered under 47 CO. It could be seized under Art. 49 CO, which is a more general norm, including all dispositions against the victim’s personality. All considered, CHF 80’000.- are allocated in this case for emotional distress. In two other instances, the Swiss High Court retained an amount of CHF 140’000.- for the emotional distress endured by a victim severely wounded in a traffic accident like the one here discussed, and CHF 140’000.- as well for a child, who collided with an iron rod, alongside the slope, while skiing.  Of those amounts are to be subtracted the amount served by the Swiss accident insurance for breach of integrity (Swiss High Court opinions, 4A_543/2014, 4A_547/2014, March 30, 2015).

Familiy law:

International Child Abduction & visitation rights:

Swiss Foundation of the International Social Service ( ex.: protection of children, parents’ rights, child abduction, alimony, international adoption):

Withdrawal of child visitation rights, or of custody: only according to art. 8 § 1 and 2 to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, and according to art. 310 of the Swiss Civil Code: of primary concern is the well-being, physical and psychological, of the child, as well as the proportionality principle. Withdrawal must be the solution of last resort. Official decisions regarding those matters can be modified anytime. An instructive case released by the Swiss High Court in Nov. 11, 2014, case 5A_621/2014.

Swiss citizenship eventually acquired after a stay in Switzerland: there is generally speaking for the children under 18 a right to entry and to stay with the parent newly Swiss, but there is also statute of limitations for such a request to stay in the country and to apply successfully for a resident license. Possibility to avoid the rigor of said statutes of limitations in case of major family reasons, but those reasons are very restrictive. See the Swiss High Court decision released Dec 2, 2014, 2C_473/2014.

Alimony for a spouse after divorce: according to Art. 125 al. 1 of Swiss Civil Code, if one cannot expect a spouse to maintain a correct way of life by his/her own means after termination of marriage, the spouse in a better financial position may have to pay an equitable contribution.
This disposition represents the concretization of two principles: 1) the principle of the financial independence of the former spouses after divorce, which stipulate that, whenever possible, each former spouse has to contribute for his/her own needs, and 2) the principle of solidarity, which means that former spouses have to bear in common 1) the consequences of the tasks-sharing they determined during marriage, and 2) the disadvantages occasioned to one of them by the marriage, preventing him/her to make a living by his/her own means.
Alimony is due if marriage concretely influenced the financial situation of the creditor spouse. There is even a right – if possible – for the creditor-spouse to continue to enjoy the same way of life as during marriage. There is a kind of presumption of such a concrete influence if marriage lasted at least 10 years (from marriage till separation-in-fact), if a spouse, while leaving his/her culture, entered in a different one, and if spouses had common children. But such kinds of marriages do not confer an automatic right to a financial contribution by the other spouse: the principle of autonomy is above the right to perceive alimony: a spouse can successfully ask for alimony only if he/she is unable to make his/her own living and if the other spouse has enough financial capacity to contribute. 
See for an example the Swiss Hign Court decision 5_A844/2014, Apr. 23, 2015.

Alimony due to one’s family: failure to pay amounts allocated by the court can be criminally punished if creditor states a claim (art. 217 Penal Code). Intent is needed for condemnation. If not allowed by the court or by alimony-creditor, compensation (with a debt allegedly due by alimony-creditor) is forbidden. Abandonment of a job opportunity or of asset not a defense. Penal court cannot review amount of alimony decided by civil court (cf. Swiss High Court opinion released Jan. 6, 2015, 6B_608/2014).

Divorce: before the judicial decision severing the matrimonial relationship, a convention can be submitted to the court, signed by both spouses, expressing their wishes as to the fate of their belongings and various assets or debts. The idea is to avoid for the spouses the burden to determine the exact shares of all assets and liabilities. Thus the convention does not have to reflect exact calculations. The court will accept the convention under a standard of fairness, in addition just checking if it was concluded after sound reflection, without any sort of undue influence, and if the text signed is clear and complete, without more inquiries. If ratified by the court, the convention becomes part of the judgment of divorce itself.  If after signature but before judgment one spouse wants to retract, it is still doable. After final and executory judgment, it is much more difficult to succeed in trying to modify said convention. Essential mistake, fraud, duress, unconscionability can be argued, though (see for an example the Swiss High Court opinion in the case 5A_772/2014, March 17, 2015).

Divorce between a Swiss citizen and a foreign citizen: is the foreign former spouse allowed to stay in Switzerland? Conceivable if matrimonial link did last at least 3 years and if integration in Switzerland was achieved. The 3 years period has to be considered at the same time as an effective cohabitation in Switzerland and ends when the spouses cease to live together. Only the years while married are taken into account, and not the span of time of a wedding-preceding partnership. The 3 years period can be cut by periods of time spent abroad if the total span of time spent in Switzerland happens to be more than 3 years. Living under the same roof is exceptionally not required if major reasons can be alleged (familial or professional for instance) but the family community has to be maintained during the severance-in-fact. Besides, except application of a bad faith exception, Swiss courts admit that several period of time spent in Switzerland can be added and counted to satisfy the 3 years period, but again a genuine matrimonial community has to be alleged and proved.
As for the second and last condition of a successful integration in Switzerland, the number of criteria to be satisfied is open, all the circumstances are taken into account. Of relevance: to abide by the Swiss Constitution and Swiss laws, to show economic, social and cultural integration, to speak the language of one’s place of abode in Switzerland, to know some about the Swiss way of life, to avoid to be (for a long time) on welfare. (Swiss High Court, August 27, 2014 opinion, 2C_14/2014).

Social insurances and Private insurances:

Health insurance: in case of difficulty with a health insurance (the mandatory one or the non-mandatory complementary ones, as well as with the daily indemnities served by health insurances, in any situations  when insured is not (yet) represented by a private lawyer or by a legal insurance company): free help from the Ombudsman of Health insurance is available countrywide. For conditions and various other information, have a look at its website:

As for the non-mandatory complementary health insurances, it is of utmost importance to fill the health-questionnaire completely, faithfully, with details, to avoid cancelation of the insurance contract by the company for failure to state precisely the past and present medical condition. Those questionnaires are provided by the company before its acceptance (or refusal) to contract. A contractual reserve linked to an ongoing or past medical condition may be proposed by the company, the contract being otherwise accepted. For a case decided by the Swiss High Court, cf. opinion released Jan 13, 2015, 4A-577/2014.

Generally speaking, in all social insurances questions or issues, article 27 of the federal law about the general part of social insurances compels said institutions to explain fully and in an understandable manner their positions, calculations, and to answer to specific questions, even without an ongoing litigation.

Private insurances in general, Civil liability insurance, Life insurance, mandatory accident insurance: as for the health insurance, Ombudsman services are available:


Banking: there is also Ombudsman services:

Payment systems:

Promissory note: the Swiss equivalent is the “billet à ordre”, the statutory provisions applicable being art. 1096 to 1099 Federal Code of Obligations; conditions of validity (cf. Swiss High Court, opinion released Nov. 2, 2010, 4A_460/2010).

Criminal law:

Can a corporation or an artificial legal entity be considered a victim, suffering an economic loss, within the frame of the criminal proceedings it has initiated? Yes, if the penal statute at stake protects said artificial entity (as well as individuals). Thus, for example, a corporation cannot be victim of a menace (it cannot suffer fear), so it cannot file a criminal complaint about that menace, and cannot recover damages for that menace in an ongoing criminal proceeding.  But it can be victim of a coercion (aims at altering its corporate behavior), allowing it to sue criminally, to  claim monetary damages in the criminal proceeding, and allowing it to appeal till the Swiss High Court (cf. opinion by the Swiss High Court, released Dec. 4, 2014, 6B_261/2014).

Procedure: Forms which can be used to seize a court:

Procedure: international case, jurisdiction in Switzerland or abroad? (In the first of the two cases, Switzerland or Sweden, an E.U. member?): double-pertinence of facts test: 1) In Switzerland, a case is deemed international (before a court or before an arbitral forum) if there is a sufficient nexus with another country. 2) In contractual matters, the lex fori determines whether the Judge bears the burden of establishing facts in order to determine if her court has jurisdiction, or whether she can or shall ask the litigants to bring the necessary evidences before her court. 3) The facts appropriate to determine whether the court has jurisdiction can be either “simple-facts” or “double-pertinent facts”. Facts are qualified as “simple-facts” when they are useful only to state jurisdiction. Those have to be proved when the Judge determines if his court has jurisdiction or not (if defendant has preliminarily contested jurisdiction). On the other hand, facts are of “double-pertinence” when they are useful for determining jurisdiction as well as for determining the merit of the case at hand. Accordingly, in a “double-pertinence” case, the Judge determines jurisdiction only based on the claimant’s allegations, legal claims and conclusions. The objections of defendant are not considered for determining jurisdiction, even if it is found later, during administration of evidences, that there is indeed no jurisdiction (claimant did choose the forum, he does not have a right to choose again, either the adequate general forum or another special forum). Ex.: existence of a contract, tort committed or not: double-pertinence; place where tort occurred, domicile of a party, place of business: simple fact, which has to be proven at the inception of the case for the court to accept its jurisdiction (that place is irrelevant to determine the merits of the case). 3)The double-pertinence theory does not apply when jurisdiction of an arbitral court is contested: a party cannot be compelled to endure that such a court determines litigated rights and obligations if they are not covered by a valid arbitral agreement. 4) Interpreting Art. 60 of the Swiss Code of Civil Procedure, the Swiss High Court held that the parties have to collaborate in alleging facts and bringing evidences, bearing on jurisdiction, before the court (cf. Swiss High Court opinion, June 25, 2015, 4A_703/2014, and June 26, 2015, 4A_73/2015).
Procedure: "Conclusions": the remedies the court is asked to pronounce in a particular case. They have to be precise enough and carefully carved in order to avoid an ab ovo dismissal, without consideration of the merits of the case at hand. But a so-called "principle of confidence" compels the court to interpret the conclusions in the light of the arguments developed in the written pleadings. The forbidding of excessive formalism urges the court to avoid too high a threshold in order to receive them: if the reading of the pleading allows to understand what plaintiff/appellant or the adverse party is asking for, the court has to accept said conclusions as formulated (cf. various Swiss High Court decisions, notably ATF 4A_688/2011 c. 2 (Apr. 17, 2012), ATF 138 III 425, ATF 2C_861/2015 c. 1.2. (Feb. 11, 2016)). For a kind application of these principles, cf. Swiss High Court 5A_866/2015, c. 1.2. (May 2, 2016), a case about the restructuring of a venture virtually in bankruptcy.

Procedure: if the conclusions of the pleadings are libeled in foreign currency, the amount has to be converted in Swiss francs. The relevant day is the day when said pleading is filed with the Swiss court. Besides, according to Article 84 of the Swiss obligations Code, a monetary debt has to be paid to creditor in the currency chosen by the parties in their agreement. If the case goes to court, the Swiss Judge is compelled to allocate the amount – if due – in the chosen currency, thus not necessarily in Swiss francs (cf. Swiss High Court opinion of March 12, 2015, 4A_555/2014).

Legal research (U.S.):

Constitution of the U.S., and more generally America’s Historical Documents in the National Archives:

U.S. Supreme Court decisions:

Court Rules:
http://www.supremecourt.gov/ctrules/ctrules.aspx (Motions and Applications: Part. V; Briefs on the Merits: Part. VI; Practice and Procedure: Part VII; Costs: Rule 43).
New link: 

E-mailing a brief does not obviate the requirement that a hard copy be timely filed.

Emergency situation: application for a stay

An example of a Brief for petitioners: Baker Botts L.L.P. v. ASARCO LLC (no 14-103, 2014-2015 Supreme Court Briefs):  http://www.americanbar.org/publications/preview_home/14-103.html 

Guide for prospective indigent petitioners for writs of certiorari (October 2014), including instructions for completing forms and the forms themselves:

Seton Hall (Federal) Circuit Review:
The Seton Hall Circuit Review aims to publish short and long scholarly articles analyzing important recent developments in all areas of the law at the court of appeals level. In addition:
First Impressions: contains brief summaries of issues of first impression identified by federal court of appeals opinions
Current Circuit Splits: contains brief summaries of circuit splits identified by federal court of appeals opinions

United States Code (from U.S. House of Representatives, Office of the Law Revision Counsel):

Code of Federal regulations (CFR):

Electronic Code of Federal Regulations (e-CFR, not an official legal edition of the CFR, but updated on a daily basis). Contains also an Agency List with references to the CFR:

Government publications, including a parallel Table of Authorities and Rules for the Code of Federal regulations and the United States Code: U.S. Government Publishing Office

California Supreme Court published/citable Opinions (here Slip Opinions: Slip Opinions are as-filed versions of opinions certified for publication or ordered published; they do not reflect enhancement, editing, and correction for the Official Reports)

California Courts, Online Self-Help Center

California Courts, self-help glossary:

California courts: Rules of Court & Code of Judicial Ethics

Forms: Browse All Forms (ex: complaint-contract):

Free forms (Cal & Federal): Forms by Topic: http://www.saclaw.org/pages/forms-page-topical.aspx

California Legislative Information (including the state Constitution, the 29 Codes, Bill information, a Tracking by Keyword system, a “My Favorites” tool allowing to store bills and codes, eliminating the need to perform repeated searches)

Office of Administrative law (California), including California Code of Regulations (CCR), Code of Federal Regulations, United States Code

The Executive Orders of the Governor of California:

State Agencies Index (California): about one hundred.

California Agency Reports, a website listing all reports required by statute to be prepared and filed by state and local agencies with the Legislature or Governor

Sacramento business journal (including a local businesses and services directory)

Small Claims Court (lawsuit for $ 10,000 or less (individuals), for $ 5,000 or less (business), including help to write a demand letter, court forms, how to file the claim, how to serve the claim, the procedural steps and collection, through Form EJ-130, Writ of Execution (to take to the sheriff’s office). After judgment paid in full, an Acknowledgment of Satisfaction of Judgment must be file out, to avoid to pay the judgment debtor damages and a penalty.

Cases for $ 25,000 or less: court forms, cover sheet, fee waiver, service of process, default, need for a lawyer in California

Cases for over $25,000:

Bankruptcy: in general, Chapter 7 (for individuals), Chapter 11 (reorganization proceeding), Chapter 13 (like Chapter 11, but for individuals), Exemptions, Automatic stay (limited protection), need for a lawyer in California

Legal Research: need to “Shepardize” ™ (up to date the legal research, a must to be accurate, “secondarily” to avoid malpractice): online tools including those in the websites above, and commercial websites abound.

Of interest: free research blog providing free research links:

Websites providing free access to court decisions: cf. Library of Congress, Databases and Internet resources (Google Scholar, Public Library of Law, Findlaw, Justia, Leagle, Cornell Institute, Law Library of Congress):

Free Law Library: The Public Library of Law (PLOL), Free Account Required,  including Legal Forms (by states, for a fee)

Of interest: Internet for Lawyers

And: "The Cybersleuth's Guide to the Internet: Conducting Effective Investigative & Legal Research on the Internet" 10th edition, by Carole Levitt, J.D., M.L.S & Mark E. Rosch

University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law (Sacramento), Library:

Database List (ID needed).

Research Guides: e.g. a) Global Lawyering Skills (including legal research and legal writing), b) How to compile a California Legislative History, c) Creating a Table of Authorities in Microsoft Word (for Mac).

Web Searching:

Use more than one search engine (no individual search engine searches the whole web)
Use advanced search features if available
Do multiple searches on the same topic
Don't just look at the first page of results

Some search engines:
Google, Google Scholar, Google Books
(Blekko: has joined the IBM Watson Group)


Search for California (and Federal) Legislation:
Cal Legislative Counsel search engine, Cal Legislature's search engine, Cal State Senate search engine
(Former Thomas search engine (Library of Congress), now replaced by Congress.gov, the official website for U.S. federal legislative information)

Santa Clara University School of Law:

KeyCite-Online Alternative to Shepardizing
Make Sure Your Case is Good Law by Checking Citations in KeyCite®
KeyCite, West's citation research service, is available through the Law Library's subscription to WestlawNext. You can use KeyCite at any of the Library's public computers to view the history of a case, statute, regulation, or administrative decision to help determine whether it is good law and to retrieve citing references.

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