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krfacts December Edition 2021 Important legal changes as of 01 January/01 July 2022

Amendments to various federal decrees will come into force on 01 January and 01 July 2022. We have selected and briefly summarised the most important changes for you.

Revision of the Insurance Contract Act (ICA)

The revised law brings various improvements for customers and adapts provisions to changed circumstances. For example, a right of cancellation of 14 days has newly been introduced for insurance contracts (art. 2a para. 2 ICA) and also long-term contracts may be terminated after three years (art. 35a ICAL). The limitation period for claims arising from insurance contracts has been increased from two to five years (art. 46 para. 1 ICA). In addition, the law has been adapted to the demands of today’s electronic commerce. The revision will enter into force on 01 January 2022.

Marriage for all (Civil Code, CC)

A clear majority of voters and all cantons approved the "marriage for all" in the referendum of 26 September 2021. To implement the marriage for all, a single provision (art. 9g para. 2 Final Title CC) will already enter into force on 01 January 2022. It concerns the marital property regime of same-sex couples who were married abroad and whose marriage was recognised as a registered partnership in Switzerland. As of 01 July 2022, same-sex couples will then be entitled to marry or convert their registered partnership into a marriage, thereby eliminating the existing difference in treatment under the law.

Change of gender entry in the civil register (CC)

On the basis of the new art. 30b CC, it will in future be possible to change the gender in the civil register quickly and unbureaucratically. The declaration can be made by any person who is firmly convinced that he or she does not belong to the gender recorded in the civil register. The provision will come into force on 01 January 2022.

Tightening of the Act on Cartels (ACart)

As of 01 January 2022, various amendments to the Act on Cartels will come into force, which are intended to prevent the impediment to competition, respectively the disadvantage of the market counterparty. The revised Act on Cartels explicitly defines the term "company with relatively large market shares". Accordingly, it is a company on which other companies are dependent when offering or requesting a service or product insofar as there are no sufficient and reasonable possibilities to switch to other companies. In the future, the abuse provisions in cartel law will be applicable to companies with such relatively large market shares.

The legislator has implemented further significant changes in view of the popular initiative "Stop the high price island - for fair prices": In the future, Swiss companies will be entitled, among other provisions, to purchase foreign products or services from relatively market-dominating companies with relatively large market shares at the prices and conditions applica-ble abroad. In addition, international online shops may not charge Swiss customers higher prices without any objective reason.

AHV number as uniform personal identifier (AHVG; AHVV)

In future, authorities will be entitled to use the AHV number to identify individuals. To this end, the Federal Council has – following the amendment of the Federal Act on Old-Age and Survivors' Insurance (AHVG) – revised the related ordinance (AHVV). As of 01 January 2022, the AHV number may be systematically used as a personal identification instrument, provided this is necessary for the fulfilment of statutory tasks. This is intended to make processes more efficient and digital and to avoid confusion between persons.

Revision of the Fee Charging Regulations to the Debt Enforcement and Bankrupty Act (GebV SchKG)

The Fee Charging Regulations SchKG has been amended in several respects. For example, debt enforcement offices are now entitled to charge a fee of eight francs if the debtor is requested to accept a debt collection document in person at the office. On the other hand, the recording of the withdrawal of a debt collection by the competent debt enforcement office will be free of charge in the future.

Furthermore, the maximum court costs in SchKG summary proceedings will be increased so that the courts are able to take better account of the expenses in each individual case. For the time being, the Federal Council has decided against charging a fee of five francs for debt collection requests that are not submitted in electronic form. In this regard, the Federal Council wishes to postpone an amendment to the Fee Charging Regulations until a general regulation has been drawn up and implemented as part of the Justitia 4.0 project, which intends to introduce nationwide electronic legal transactions in criminal, civil and administrative court proceedings. The revision will enter into force on 01 January 2022.

Uniform collection assistance for maintenance contributions throughout Switzerland (InkHV)

After a separation, one parent may have to pay maintenance contributions to the other to cover the needs of the joint children. It is often the case that maintenance payments are made irregularly or too late. In such cases, the Civil Code provides for the state to assist the parent and children concerned in collecting the maintenance contributions. Until now, the cantons have regulated the details of this collection assistance. However, the cantonal regulations widely differed from each other, resulting in an unequal treatment of the parents and children concerned. With the entry into force of the Collection Assistance Ordinance on 01 January 2022, collection assistance will now be regulated uniformly throughout Switzerland. The new ordinance provides, in particular, for cantonal authorities to assist the person entitled to maintenance with the debt collection upon request. To this end, the ordinance contains a minimum catalogue of services that each cantonal authority must offer. The services include, in particular, a personal specialist discussion, written contact with the person liable to pay maintenance or the initiation of criminal or debt collection proceedings.

New admission criteria for billing to the health care insurance (KVG; KVV)

In the future, the cantons will be responsible for the authorisation of all service providers in the outpatient sector. The revised provisions of the KVG and KVV increase the quality requirements in this regard. Doctors who wish to work for the compulsory health insurance for the first time must have worked for at least three years at a recognised Swiss training center in the requested specialty. They must also join an electronic patient record and have the necessary language skills. The provisions will enter into force on 01 January 2022.

Amendment of the Ordinance on Withholding Tax (VStV)

Currently, the last canton of residence of the deceased is responsible for refunding the withholding tax to the heirs. In the future, the heirs of an inheritance that has not yet been distributed shall reclaim the withholding tax on inheritances in their canton of residence. This will better ensure that the inheritance is recorded with the income and wealth tax and that the withholding tax is correctly refunded in intercantonal cases. The amendment will come into force on 01 January 2022.

New obligations for companies to better protect human rights and the environment

In the course of the referendum "For responsible businesses – protecting human rights and the environment" on 29 November 2020 and the indirect counter-proposal of the Parliament adopted at the ballot box, the new provisions in the Code of Obligations (CO) and the Ordinance of the Federal Council on Obligations of Due Diligence and Transparency with regard to Minerals and Metals from Conflict Areas and Child Labour (VSoTr) will come into force on 01 January 2022. The regulations will apply for the first time to the 2023 fiscal year.

We refer to the krfacts edition of 10 June 2021 " New obligations for companies to better protect people and the environment ".

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