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IV. trade policies by sector - page 42 / 50





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Switzerland and LiechtensteinWT/TPR/S/208 Page 131


Various professions are regulated at the federal or cantonal level.  A comprehensive list of regulated professions has been compiled by the Federal Office for Professional Education and Technology.96  The Office is also in charge of recognizing certain professional diplomas.97

(a) Legal services



The Federal Law on the free movement of lawyers (LLCA)98, in force since June 2002, established and unified at federal level the requirements for the practice of law.99  However, cantons retain the right to determine the requirements for cantonal licensing;  there is no federal licensing.  The LLCA allows the free movement of lawyers within the country, enabling them to appear in a court of law in any canton, irrespective of the canton in which they are registered, without special authorization.  In 2007, about 9,000 lawyers were registered in Switzerland.  


Under the LLCA, a lawyer wishing to represent clients in court must acquire a cantonal lawyer's licence and be registered in the canton in which he has his professional address (for legal consultancy, see below).  In order to obtain this cantonal licence, a person must have followed studies in law leading to a graduate degree awarded by a Swiss university, followed by practical experience in Switzerland of at least one year, and success in an examination of juridical knowledge in theory and practice.  Registration also requires certain personal qualifications, such as independence, solvency, and absence of penal convictions.  


Nationals from member states of the EC or EFTA, who are entitled to practice the legal profession under one of the professional titles listed in the annex to the LLCA, may represent parties before judicial authorities in Switzerland for a maximum of 90 days a year;  they may not register in the cantonal registry. Moreover, they may permanently represent parties before judicial authorities in Switzerland if they register in the official list of nationals of member states of the EC or EFTA with the cantonal supervisory authority for lawyers.  In the rare case of proceedings for which legal representation is mandatory, e.g. representation in court in penal proceedings concerning serious accusations, they must act together with a cantonally-registered lawyer.100  After three years of practice in Switzerland, they are eligible to register in the canton in which they have their professional address.  Lawyers with three years of practice of Swiss law or who have passed the examination may be registered, and have the same rights and duties as Swiss lawyers.


Non-EC or non-EFTA lawyers who do not comply with the general requirements  may not be registered and may work only as legal consultants.  As bound in its GATS Schedule, Switzerland imposes no restrictions on the provision of consulting services by foreign lawyers in either         home-country or international law as regards cross-border supply, consumption abroad, and commercial presence.  

96 See Federal Office for Professional Education and Technology online information.  Viewed at:  http://www.bbt.admin.ch/dossiers/anerkenn/eu/d/regl.pdf.  

97 Depending on the profession, diplomas must be recognized by the relevant professional association or the Federal Office for Professional Education and Technology.  For further information on recognition of foreign diplomas and work experience, see Federal Office for Professional Education and Technology online information, "Links to areas the OPET is not responsible for".  Viewed at:  http://www.bbt.admin.ch/ themen/hoehere/00169/00371/00384/index.html?lang=en.

98 RS 935.61.

99 Ehle and Scheckle (2005), pp. 269-273.

100 EC or EFTA lawyers who have been on the official list for three years and can prove that they have been effectively and regularly active in the area of Swiss law may be listed in the cantonal register.  

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