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Government unveils plans to overhaul legal system

The number and scale of cases heard by the Federal Court in Lausanne could be reduced

(Keystone Archive)

The government has unveiled a series of wide ranging reforms to the legal system, aimed at clearing the backlog of cases at the federal court and improving legal protection for citizens. The measures also envisage raising the ceiling for damages in civil cases.

Announcing the package of reforms on Thursday, the justice minister, Ruth Metzler, said the legal system was in need of an overhaul, largely because of the growing backlog of cases at the Federal Court in Lausanne and the Federal Insurance Court in Lucerne.

A key aim of the package is to limit the number and scale of cases heard by the Federal Court. The measures envisage a simplification of legal procedures as well as the creation of two new federal courts.

One would assess penal cases before deciding whether and where they should be heard; the other would deal with administrative issues, legal complaints and appeals.

The measures, which must now be considered by parliament, also recommend that the damages which can be paid out in civil suits be raised from the current SFr8,000 to SFr40,000 ($4,820-$24,000).

The reforms also envisage closer ties between the Federal Court the Federal Insurance Court to improve administrative procedures and coordination - judges, for example, would be free to move between the courts without needing to be elected.

The reforms are expected to cost around SFr10 million, excluding the cost of creating the two new courts, which cannot as yet be determined.

swissinfo with agencies


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