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Taking legal action can be expensive: stay on the (financially) safe side in a legal dispute

Nov 10, 2015. Posted in Diverses

Disputes with your landlord or disputes following a traffic accident can quickly end up before the courts – and put a big strain on your finances. On top of court and lawyers' fees, you may also have to pay for an expert opinion and reimburse the other party's legal costs if you lose the case. Read on to find out what costs you can expect to face.

Want to seek legal redress and take someone to court? Under the Swiss Civil Procedure Code (CPC), you must pay the estimated court fees in advance (Art. 98 CPC). Otherwise your case will not be heard before the courts. This applies even if you're in the right.


For example: Marco R. is the victim of a traffic accident.

Marco is seeking to claim civil damages of CHF 100,000.–. In the canton of Zurich, the court fees of this case alone amount to around CHF 9,000.–. On top of this, he will also have to pay his lawyer's fees, which can amount to several hundred francs an hour. And if Marco were to lose the case, he would also owe the counterparty compensation of another CHF 10,000.–. Marco has no legal protection insurance and is unsure of whether to take the risk. He knows that taking legal action could mean he faces paying significant costs – regardless of who wins the case.

  • If Marco loses the case, he has to pay everything – all costs for the court case and the lawyers' fees of both parties – out of his own pocket. He may even have to make an additional payment after the case is closed, as the court fees he paid in advance were based on an estimate.
  • If Marco wins the case, he will not receive the advance payment back from the court. Under the Swiss Civil Procedure Code (CPC) and Swiss Criminal Procedure Code (CrimPC), the plaintiff recovers the court fees he paid in advance together with his legal expenses from the counterparty. This means Marco is also taking on collection risk, as he may have to bear the costs of litigation himself if the counterparty is unable to pay. In this case, Marco would have to assume both the court fees and the full amount of his lawyer's fees – and end up making a financial loss despite having won the case.


Most legal protection insurance covers disputes with employers, landlords or road users by providing legal representation for the policyholder and assuming the legal costs. With such protection, Marco need not hesitate to take legal action. It makes sense to consider taking out legal protection insurance:

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