In view of the current situation, the Federal Council decided to extend the judicial vacation over Easter for civil and administrative proceedings.

Due to the current situation, the Federal Council on 20 March 2020 enacted an ordinance to extend the upcoming vacation in administrative and civil procedures («Verordnung über den Stillstand der Fristen in Zivil- und Verwaltungsverfahren zur Aufrechterhaltung der Justiz im Zusammenhang mit dem Coronavirus (COVID-19)»). According to the ordinance the judicial vacation started on 21 March 2020 and will end on 19 April 2020.

The extension of the judicial vacation over Easter applies to all civil and administrative proceedings at federal and cantonal level where the applicable procedural law foresees judicial vacation over Easter. This also entails tax procedures. It both covers statutory deadlines as well as deadlines ordered by the authorities or courts that would end within the vacation. However, proceedings in which the applicable procedural law currently does not foresee any judicial vacation over Easter Days are not affected. Therefore, respective deadlines are not extended. This applies in particular to all cantonal procedures, where the cantonal law does not provide for judicial vacation. Furthermore, penal procedures are excluded from the extension.

In the following, the effect on ongoing procedures at federal and cantonal level for some jurisdictions is highlighted:

Procedures under federal law

On federal level, in civil as well as in administrative procedures judicial vacation over Easter are granted (from seven days before to seven days after Easter). Consequently, in procedures subject to those federal procedural laws, the extension basically applies. However, there are some material exceptions such as in case of precautionary measures, where no vacation applies.

Procedures under cantonal law

Other than on federal level, on cantonal level administrative procedures not always provide for judicial vacation. For example, in the cantons of Berne, Geneva and Zurich no such vacation is available and therefore the respective procedures are not affected. Some cantons, however, have applied own measures. For example, in the canton of Geneva the deadlines set by the administrative court of the first instance («Tribunal administratif de première instance») or the administrative chamber of the court of justice («la chambre administrative de la Cour de justice») which expire between now and 14 May 2020 are automatically extended until 15 May 2020, unless the court has expressly decided otherwise and notified the parties explicitly (a further extension is reserved). Hence, we advise to analyze the situation in the respective canton in case it should be difficult to meet a deadline.

Other legal measures before cantonal authorities

Deadlines set by authorities basically can be extended on request, if the application is filed within the deadline.

This is not possible for statutory deadlines. If a statutory deadline is missed due to obstruction such as an illness, a request can be made to the competent authority or court to restore the deadline. This request must be based on sound justification and be filed as soon as possible (in general no later than 30 days after being capable of doing so again). Within the same period, the missed action must be made up for. In normal times deadlines are restored only in exceptional cases. The current situation might be such an exception for many people. Nevertheless, it is not expected that restoring of deadlines will be granted on a wide scale.

Conclusion

The federal ordinance to extend the judicial vacation over Easter brings an important relief in the current situation. However, as not all procedures are affected, it is of utmost importance to perform a detailed analysis for each deadline, whether it is extended by law, if an extension must be applied for (if applicable) or if no extension is possible at all.

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