E-Commerce: the laws of Switzerland

Apart from the federal law against unfair competition, no legislation covers e-commerce in Switzerland. The European Union itself has established rules in order to protect consumers.

Unlike the European Union, Switzerland has no specific law on electronic commerce, except the federal law against unfair competition entered into force in 2012. Nevertheless, the rules of the Code of Obligations, applicable to traditional sales contracts are valid.

One click is enough to conclude a sales contract

By clicking on the “order” button, the customer of an online store in Swiss concludes a sales contract in accordance with Article 197 and following of the Code of Obligations. The written form is not required as a single click is enough.
The rules of the Code of Obligations can may be modified through the contract and contractual conditions. The trader issues those and these documents prevail over the law if the buyer had the opportunity to read them at the time of conclusion of the contract. The new rules can be specified as “terms and conditions”.
With regard to legal obligations, it is worth noting the following points:

  • Right of revocation. Swiss law provides no withdrawal period or other right of return once the order is placed. The vendor may provide such a clause, but is under no obligation in this regard.
  • Delivery. Swiss law does not provide a maximum delivery period. To reassure customers, the seller may provide it in a contract.
  • Clear information. Online stores have the obligation to provide the information required by federal law against unfair competition entered into force in 2012.
  • Warranty. If the product proves to be defective or is different as in the description, the buyer has a two-year warranty.

E-commerce: terms and conditions

Law against unfair competition

The first legal rule in Switzerland that explicitly mentions electronic commerce is the modified federal law against unfair competition entered into force in 2012.

The new Article 3, valid since April 2012, defines what information has to be provided by the operator of e-Commerce:
“Acts unfairly if, in particular, offers goods, works or services through electronic commerce without meeting the following conditions:

  1. Indicates clearly its complete identity and contact information, including email,
  2. indicates the different technical steps leading to the conclusion of a contract,
  3. provide appropriate technical tools to identify and correct input errors before sending an order,
  4. immediately confirm the customer's order by e-mail “

The new Article 8, valid from July 2012, restricts freedoms in general terms and conditions in order to better protect consumers:

“Acts unfairly if, in particular, uses terms that against the rules of good faith provide, to the detriment of the consumer, a significant and unjustified imbalance between the rights and obligations in the contract.”

Law on Data Protection

From the time sensitive data are collected from customers, an online e-commerce is subject to federal law on data protection.

E-commerce: Protection of personal data

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