Ensuring legal professional protection will enhance the global competitiveness of Swiss companies and confirms a global trend
Brussels – The Association of Corporate Counsel Europe (ACC Europe) applauds the decision of Switzerland’s National Council to approve extending legal professional secrecy protections to in-house lawyers. The move is an important and long-overdue step towards increasing the effectiveness of in-house lawyers in assuring compliance and promoting the competitiveness of Swiss companies worldwide. The measure is part of a larger revision of the Code of Civil Procedure currently before Parliament.
This protection of their professional secrecy would apply to any legal department whose head lawyer fulfils the professional requirements to practice in his or her country of origin. Spain and the Netherlands have also recently affirmed important aspects of in-house legal privilege with regard to both national and foreign lawyers.
“The lack of legal professional protection for legal advice severely undermined general counsel’s ability to promote compliance and left multinational companies headquartered in Switzerland at a considerable disadvantage internationally,” said Christian Haitz, General Counsel Corporate and Compliance at Gategroup and Country Representative for ACC Europe in Switzerland. “It was time for Switzerland to join the more that 50% of European nations that recognize these fundamental and critical protections. I thank Parliament for moving this proposal forward and hope that it is adopted quickly.”
“The protection of professional secrecy for in-house lawyers is nowadays more necessary than ever so they can effectively counsel their corporate clients. Lack of legal professional protection for in-house lawyers has a detrimental effect on corporate compliance” said Javier Ramirez, chair of Advocacy and member of the Board of Directors of ACC Europe. “Many other countries throughout Europe and the world provide this indispensable protection to ensure that trusted and open conversations can be held between in-house lawyers and their clients in the provision of legal assistance. These latest discussions in Parliament are encouraging developments, and ACC Europe urges all parties involved to remain focused and finalize robust protection as soon as possible. This recognition will facilitate a level playing field for the Swiss business community on the international stage, especially as compared with most developed economies that are members of the OECD.”
As Economiesuisse, a federation of Swiss businesses noted, “numerous European countries such as Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and Spain, but also Singapore, for example” have already introduced similar legal professional protections, and likewise welcomed this legal development.
About ACC Europe: The Association of Corporate Counsel Europe (ACC Europe) serves the needs of lawyers practicing in corporations and other organisations throughout Europe. ACC Europe, with more than 3,100 members, promotes the interests of all in-house counsel across the region through the sharing of information, education, networking and advocacy while demonstrating innovation, inclusion and leadership for the benefit of the whole profession. ACC Europe is a chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC), which since its founding in 1982 has grown to more than 45,000 members in 80+ countries employed by over 10,000 organizations, ACC connects its members to the people and resources necessary for both personal and professional growth. Additional information about ACC Europe can be found at https://www.acc.com/chapters-networks/chapters/europe.
By in-house counsel, for in-house counsel®.