There are four federal courts. The
highest court is the Swiss Federal Supreme Court, which rules in the final
instance on cases from almost all areas of law. The three federal courts of first
instance have different tasks. The Federal Criminal Court is responsible for
criminal matters of particular importance to the Swiss Confederation as well as
for appeals concerning judicial assistance in criminal matters. The Federal
Administrative Court rules on appeals against orders of the federal
administrative authorities and the Federal Patent Court on disputes over
Cantonal courts or the federal courts of
first instance rule in the first and second instance. If the parties concerned
do not agree with a decision, they can take their case to the Federal Supreme Court.
The Federal Supreme Court Act regulates the conditions under which an appeal is
Election of judges
The judges of the federal courts are elected by the United Federal Assembly for a term of office of 6 years. Re-election is possible without restriction. At the latest, judges leave office at the end of their 68th year of age.
The United Federal Assembly also elects the presidents and vice-presidents of the courts. The presidential term of office is 2 years (with the exception of the Federal Patent Court: 6 years). A one-time re-election is possible.
Procedures in the Swiss legal system
The federal courts are located at four sites
In 2020 approximately 15,000 cases were closed