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Details on Site Contribution
Site contribution
Date: October 2014
Prepared by:
Dr. Bernhard F. Meyer, LL.M., FCIArb,
Dr. Dominik Vock, LL.M.
MME Legal | Tax | Compliance
Kreuzstrasse 42
8008 Zurich
Phone:   +41 44 254 99 66
Fax:   +41 44 254 99 60
E-Mail:   bernhard.meyer@mme.ch
The enforcement of a money claim in Switzerland is governed by the Federal Act on the Enforcement of Claims and Bankruptcy. The following is an outline of its main features:
1.  A so-called payment order is served upon the debtor by the Debt Enforcement Office, a governmental agency. The debtor may oppose the claim by filing a formal notice of opposition within a certain time period.
2.  Depending on debtor's reaction, there are various alternatives: the debtor fails to oppose the payment order in time: the payment order then becomes enforceable like a court judgment; the payment order is duly opposed in time: the creditor must file a lawsuit to establish his claim, either in form of a summary court proceeding (certain prerequisites apply) or in form of an ordinary court case.
3.  Once the creditor is in possession of a judgment or enforceable payment order, he may request continuation of the debt enforcement proceeding: by having the Debt Enforcement Office take a pledge on the Debtors' personal assets and liquidating the same; by having the Debt Enforcement Office sell preexisting pledges or mortgages; or, if the debtor is registered as a business in the Commercial Register, by requesting the Bankruptcy Court to open bankruptcy proceedings carried out by the Bankruptcy Office.
  • Under certain circumstances, a debtor may file a request for protection against creditors to stop debt enforcement proceedings.
  • Particularly in international cases, a payment order may be preceded or accompanied by an attachment procedure where personal property of a Swiss or foreign debtor in Switzerland, including Swiss bank accounts, may be frozen by a judge. This again requires a court decision issued, however, in case of urgency, within very short time.
    Applicable Law
  • Swiss Code on Debt Enforcement and Bankruptcy Law
  • Procedurally, the Swiss Federal Act of Civil Procedure applies. As to substance the Swiss Federal Act on International Private Law determines the applicable law under which the debt must be established
    Frequently Asked Questions
  • What information is needed by the Debt Execution office for serving a payment order?
    Name, first name, address, marital regime of the debtor; name, first name, address of claimant; amount claimed, interest rate claimed, due date of claim and interest; claim documents and date thereof, if no documents are available, state the reasons for the claim (the above mentioned AMCHAM publication contains a translation of the form to be filled out by the claimant upon commencement of the debt execution proceeding).
  • What are the time and cost factors?
    Costs depend on the complexity of the case. Fees of the Debt Enforcement Office and the Bankruptcy Office are moderate. However, if court proceedings become necessary, costs and time requirements may be substantial.
  • Do I have to take legal advice, or can I enforce the claim myself?
    Taking legal advice is strongly recommended in all cases because strict formal requirements and imperative time periods apply.
    Useful Links
  • Swiss Debt Enforcement Offices (only German, French, Italian)