Civil liability is the area of law that organises compensation for damage caused to victims by clearly identified perpetrators. It is therefore an instrument that enables victims to obtain compensation and, in the public interest, to positively influence the behaviour of potential perpetrators of unlawful acts. However, despite the fundamental role played by this branch of law, the number of cases brought before the Federal Supreme Court in this area is declining. This phenomenon can be explained by two hypotheses that this project is designed to test.

There are fewer and fewer civil liability cases in Switzerland. This observation is supported by the decreasing number of rulings handed down by the Federal Court in this area. There are two possible explanations for this phenomenon. Firstly, liability cases are being absorbed by other types of litigation, such as criminal or administrative cases. Secondly, since the Code of Obligations was adopted in 1911, our socio-economic environment has changed, particularly as a result of globalisation. Today, the causes of damage are often remote (the phenomenon of remoteness: a Swiss company may have a damaging activity on another continent) and multiple (the phenomenon of dispersion: damage is often the result of many causes rather than a single one), which gives the perpetrators of unlawful acts more opportunities to escape liability. This project will take a two-pronged approach. First, it will seek to verify the first hypothesis mentioned above (the absorption of civil litigation by other types of proceedings). At the same time, it should make it possible to observe the phenomena of remoteness and dispersion (as defined above) and to discuss the need to update the doctrine of causation in order to better respond to certain imperatives of social justice. This project should be supported by a comparative analysis of Swiss, German and American tort law.


Prof. Dr Arnaud Nussbaumer-Laghzaoui
Prof. Dr Arnaud Nussbaumer-Laghzaoui Assistant professor