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Questions/answers

Find all the questions/answers made available by the jurisdictions and directorates, classified by theme and in alphabetical order.

Access

Yes, the Courthouse is a public place accessible to everyone. It is necessary to go through the security check beforehand.

The various instances of the Judiciary Power are spread over some fifteen buildings. All sites are accessible by public transport. To plan your visit, please consult the page for the instance or department concerned.

No, it is not possible to park in front of the Judiciary Power buildings. You must use the public parking areas or public transportation.

Access to a decision

Some decisions rendered by the courts of first instance are published on the website of the Judiciary Power. The majority of second instance decisions are published on the website.

Most published case law is blacked out in order to respect the privacy of those involved.

For more information, consult the case law online.

Unpublished case law can be made available for consultation under specific conditions.

For more information, consult the page Access to official documents.

No, the case law of the Judiciary Power is not available at the Library. You have to contact directly the desk of the relevant instance. Part of the case law is also published on the website of the Judiciary Power.

Adoption

An application for adoption may not be upheld until all material circumstances have been thoroughly investigated, in consultation with the relevant specialists if necessary.

In particular, the investigation looks into the character and health of the persons wishing to adopt and the child, their mutual relationship, their suitability as parents, their financial situation, motives and family circumstances and the history of the child care relationship.

The adoption of a minor child requires the consent of the child's mother and father.

This consent shall be declared, in writing or orally, to the child protection authority of the parent's or the child's residence or place of stay. It must be recorded in the minutes.

The consent of one of the parents may be disregarded if he/she is unknown, has been absent for a long time, has no known residence or is permanently incapable of judgement.

Yes, you can give him/her a new first name if there are good reasons for doing so. Prior to this, the child is heard in person by the competent authority or by a third party appointed for this purpose, unless this is inadvisable due to the child's age or for other good cause.

If the child is at least 12 years of age, a change of first name requires his/her consent.

In some cases, the competent authority may authorise an adult to be adopted to continue using his/her family name, if there are good reasons for doing so.

The child to be adopted is heard in person by the competent authority or by a third party appointed for this purpose, unless this is inadvisable due to the child's age or for other good causes.

For any information on adoption, you can contact the Placement facilities authorization and monitoring Service (SASLP), as the cantonal central authority for adoption.

See also the thematic guide Adoption

 

Legal aid

Civil and administrative proceedings

You can find all the information concerning the documents to be included with your application and the whole proceedings in the thematic guide Legal aid.

Yes, provided that the parent's financial situation is taken into account.

You may challenge a decision to refuse, withdraw or partially grant legal aid in writing with the presidency of the Cour de justice, within the period specified in the decision (10 days or 30 days, depending on the matter concerned).

In principle, yes: legal aid which may be either complete or partial, is a reimbursable advance by the beneficiary, through monthly payments due from the beginning of the proceedings, in certain cases.

At the end of the proceedings for which legal aid has been granted and depending on your situation, you may be required to reimburse to the Canton of Geneva all or part of the amounts advanced to you (legal costs) and the amount paid by the Canton (allowances paid to your legal counsel), after deduction of any monthly instalments already paid.

If you were paying a monthly contribution and your personal and financial situation has not changed, the said contribution is due up to a maximum of 60 monthly payments (5 years), whether or not the proceedings have been completed.

The Canton’s claim is prescribed after 10 years from the end of the proceedings for which the legal aid was granted. The financial services of the Judiciary Power are in charge of the payment of the owed amounts.

The granting of the legal aid has, in principle, no retroactive effect and, save for some exceptions, only your expenses incurred from the time you file your request for aid, are covered by the Canton.

Yes, a lawyer will be assigned to you under the legal aid system if aid is granted.

In principle, yes, provided that proceedings take place before the Geneva instances.

If your resources are insufficient to defend your interests in court, you may, under certain conditions, be eligible for legal aid. This financial aid is not free of charge.

It consists mainly of partial or total payment of lawyers' fees and legal costs for people who do not have the necessary means to pay them. You will have to reimburse it as soon as you are able to do so.

For more information, consult the thematic guide Legal aid

 

In principle, you cannot. A change of a lawyer appointed under the legal aid system is exceptionally granted for just reasons, such as the breakdown of the trust relationship, which must be based on objective elements. The fact that the person receiving legal aid does not like his/her lawyer or has doubts about his/her abilities, is not enough.

Criminal proceedings

In criminal proceedings, the accused may be subject to the special regime of the duty defence lawyer. The magistrate in charge of the proceedings will inform you about this. Under certain conditions, the private claimant may also be entitled to legal aid.

You should fill in the form Personal situation for the appointment of a duty defence lawyer (for the accused) or Personal situation for granting judicial aid (for the private claimant or another participant), sign it, attach the documents concerning your personal situation and send it to the Public Prosecutor's Office by mail and eFax.

The public prosecutor in charge of the proceedings will send you his/her decision in writing.

Hearings

You are looking for information about:

  • A proceedings number
  • A courtroom
  • The time and date of a specific court session
  • The concerned court

Consult the hearings' agenda

 

As a general rule, the parties can be represented by their lawyer. However, they are required to appear in person in 2 cases: when the court has expressly ordered it and during conciliation hearings.

At conciliation hearings, however, the parties may be represented if they live outside the canton or if they are unable to appear due to illness, age or other good reason.

Please note: the presence of the parties’ minor children (even babies) who have not been summoned to the hearing, is not allowed.

When the parties have received a summons to appear, they are obliged to comply with it and therefore to appear in person. If they are prevented from doing so, they must inform the authority without delay, indicating the reasons for their absence, otherwise, they may be brought by the police before the competent authority.

At the request of the accused, the court may exempt him/her from appearing in person if there are important reasons for doing so and if his/her presence is not essential. Alternatively, at the request of the complainant, the director of the proceedings may exempt him/her from appearing in person at the hearing if his or her presence is not necessary.

Witnesses summoned who are exempt from giving evidence (for example, by virtue of family ties) are nevertheless required to appear. At some hearings, a person's absence may result in a default proceeding. It is therefore prudent to find out in advance. In the case of an objection to a criminal order, unexcused absence is considered a withdrawal of the objection, and in the case of conciliation, if the complainant fails to appear, the complaint is considered withdrawn.

Parties whose examination has been ordered must appear in person; legal entities must appoint a representative.

Even when the examination has not been ordered, it is advisable to attend hearings held before the Chambre des assurances sociales de la Cour de justice in person.

Witnesses are required to appear personally.

Pursuant to Art. 67 para. 3 of the Criminal Procedure Code, public hearings are open to everyone; however, persons under 16 years of age must have the permission of the director of the proceedings.

For organizational reasons related to the capacity of the courtrooms and the issue of (partial) in camera sessions, requests should be addressed to the registry of the Tribunal pénal  by e-mail.

Public Prosecutor's Office

Hearings at the Public Prosecutor's Office are not public (art. 69 para.3 let.d CrimPC). Only the person summoned and his/her legal agent will be admitted to the hearing.

Victims whose physical, sexual or mental integrity has been directly and adversely affected by the offence may be accompanied by a confidant (art. 116 and 117 para. 1 let.b CrimPC, victims assistance Act (LAVI - RS 312.5)).

No, you cannot accompany a relative. However, anyone summoned to a hearing may request an official interpreter (art. 68 CrimPC).

The request must be made by telephone, no later than 24 hours before the date of the hearing, to the Public Prosecutor's Office.

You must come to the hearing to which you are summoned.

If you are unable to attend for a valid reason, you must immediately inform the Public Prosecutor's Office and present the documents justifying your impediment (medical certificate, plane tickets, etc.). Unless otherwise advised by the Public Prosecutor's Office, the hearing is maintained and your presence is compulsory.

When the parties have received a summons to appear, they are obliged to comply with it and therefore to appear in person. If they are prevented from doing so, they must inform the authority without delay, indicating the reasons for their absence, otherwise, they may be brought by the police before the competent authority.

At the request of the accused, the court may exempt him/her from appearing in person if there are important reasons for doing so and if his/her presence is not essential. Alternatively, at the request of the complainant, the director of the proceedings may exempt him/her from appearing in person at the hearing if his or her presence is not necessary.

Witnesses summoned who are exempt from giving evidence (for example, by virtue of family ties) are nevertheless required to appear. At some hearings, a person's absence may result in a default proceeding. It is therefore prudent to find out in advance. In the case of an objection to a criminal order, unexcused absence is considered a withdrawal of the objection, and in the case of conciliation, if the complainant fails to appear, the complaint is considered withdrawn.

Tribunal de protection de l'adulte et de l'enfant

No, but in some cases, he/she may be assisted by a deputy who has been appointed to represent and assist him/her during the proceedings. If you have accompanied your child to court, you will be asked to wait in the waiting room.

You will only be able to attend the hearing if you have been summoned to appear at the same hearing.

Tribunal civil

Yes, hearings are open to the public, except in the following cases:

  • Conciliation hearings
  • Family law proceedings (divorce, measures for the protection of the marital union, a maintenance claim, parental rights, recognition/challenge of paternity, etc.)
  • When the court has ordered the proceedings to be held in camera - in part or totally - because of a public interest or an interest worthy of protection of one of the participants in the proceedings

Hearings are open to the public, except in the following cases:

  • Family law matters (divorce, marital protection, support, parental rights, paternity, etc.)
  • Conciliation hearings
  • When the court has ordered the hearing to be held in camera because of a particular private or public interest

Yes, in the following cases:

  • At the stage of conciliation
  • At any stage of the proceedings, if the hearing is public

As a general rule, you are required to appear in person at a hearing, including family law hearings where the court has specifically ordered it and at conciliation hearings.

If you are represented by a lawyer, he/she will advise you whether your presence at the hearing is required.

Note: the presence of minor children who have not been summoned (even babies) is not allowed at the hearing (unless exceptionally agreed by the judge).

Tribunal pénal

In principle, hearings are public unless a closed session is ordered. However, persons under 16 years of age must have the permission of the judge to attend the hearings.

You must contact the Tribunal pénal again to obtain a new one.

You must write to the Tribunal pénal, the direction of the proceedings will take the decision.

Tribunal des prud'hommes

Yes, the hearings are public unless the court orders that the hearing be closed due to an overriding private or public interest. However, hearings in conciliation proceedings are never public.

In some specific cases (e.g. illness, residence or stay abroad) and upon presentation of supporting documents, a party may be represented at the hearing by a close relative, a lawyer or other professionally qualified agent.

For companies, it is possible to be represented by a person authorized to commit the company from a legal point of view.

In both cases, it is essential to make a request to the Tribunal des prud'hommes Office before the hearing and to inform the opposing party.

Tribunal des mineurs

No, all proceedings are held in camera (without an audience), from the beginning to the end of the execution phase, to preserve the imperatives of protection and education of the minor, subject to the possibility for the judgment authority to order a public hearing when:

  • The accused minor capable of discernment, or his/her parents, require it, or
  • The public interest requires it

In both cases, the approach must not harm the interests of the minor defendant.

Tribunal administratif de première instance

Yes, unless the court orders the hearing to be held in camera.

You can be represented by a lawyer or a representative during the proceedings, unless your appearance has been ordered by the judge.

In this case, you must appear in person; to be heard, legal entities appoint a natural person authorised to represent them and who has personal knowledge of the facts at the origin of or in connection with the dispute.

Cour civile de la Cour de justice

- In civil proceedings, hearings are public with 3 exceptions: hearings pertaining to family law are not public; the court may order that hearings be held in a closed session when a private or public interest requires it; hearings in conciliation proceedings are never public.

- In criminal proceedings, the hearings of the Chambre pénale d'appel et de révision are in principle public while those of the Chambre pénale de recours are not.

In civil matters, the parties can generally be represented by their lawyer. However, they are required to appear personally in 2 cases: when the court has expressly ordered it and at conciliation hearings.

At conciliation hearings, however, the parties may be represented when they are domiciled outside the canton or when they are prevented from appearing due to illness, age or other good reasons.

Please note: the presence of minor children who have not been summoned (even babies) is only allowed in court with the agreement of the judge.

In civil matters, yes, because the minor child must be represented by his/her legal representative. Exceptionally, the child can act without the assistance of his/her legal representative if he/she is exercising a strictly personal right.

Yes, in the following cases:

  • At the stage of conciliation
  • At any stage of the proceedings, if the hearing is public

Cour pénale de la Cour de justice

- In civil proceedings, hearings are public with 3 exceptions: hearings pertaining to family law are not public; the court may order that hearings be held in a closed session when a private or public interest requires it; hearings in conciliation proceedings are never public.

- In criminal proceedings, the hearings of the Chambre pénale d'appel et de révision are in principle public while those of the Chambre pénale de recours are not.

Yes, there is an obligation to appear, under penalty of being punished with a fine or being brought by the police before the competent authority.

If the accused is an appellant and does not appear at the hearing, without a valid excuse, it will be considered that he/she has waived his/her right to appeal.

The accused may, on request, be authorised to be represented by a legal agent.

The private claimant may, upon request, be allowed not to appear at the hearing.

If the private claimant is an appellant and does not appear at the hearing, it will be considered that he/she has waived his/her right to appeal.

He/she may, on request, be authorised to be represented by a legal agent.

Yes, by immediately informing the authority of the reasons for the impediment (travel abroad, illness, hospitalisation, etc.) and presenting any supporting documents (copy of airline ticket, hotel reservation, medical certificate, etc.).

Victims within the meaning of the law may be accompanied by a person of trust, even if the hearing takes place behind closed doors.

In case of a closed court session, the accused and the private claimant may also be accompanied by up to 3 persons of trust.

The same applies to witnesses, private claimants or accused persons who are granted protective measures.

The person of trust must not be likely to be heard as a witness in the same proceedings.

An accused minor and his/her legal representatives are required to appear personally at the proceedings unless they have been exempted from doing so.

The child victim must be accompanied or represented by at least one of his/her parents or by a guardian.

The witness minor child must be accompanied by at least one of his/her parents.

Lawyer/lawyer appointed under the legal aid system

Yes, a lawyer will be assigned to you under the legal aid system if aid is granted.

A selection of addresses is proposed in the page Legal advice service and legal counsels.

You should fill in the form Personal situation for the appointment of a duty defence lawyer (for the accused) or Personal situation for granting judicial aid (for the private claimant or another participant), sign it, attach the documents concerning your personal situation and send it to the Public Prosecutor's Office by mail and eFax.

The public prosecutor in charge of the proceedings will send you his/her decision in writing.

Lawyers wishing to be included in the duty defence lawyers’ list of the Public Prosecutor's Office may fill in the Form for duty defence lawyer appointments at the Public Prosecutor's Office made available on the website of the Geneva Bar Association and send it, by e-mail.

Lawyers who no longer wish to appear on the duty defence lawyers’ list of the Public Prosecutor's Office are invited to communicate their wish, by postal mail to the Public Prosecutor's Office.

Rental and lease

You can do so by means of standard requests available at the Commission de conciliation en matière de baux et loyers' desk and accessible online on the page the commission’s application forms.

You can also use a simple signed letter, containing the designation of the opposing party, the conclusions and the description of the object of the litigation. Pay attention to deadlines (generally 30 days).

Once the lease is terminated, you must file a request for eviction against the tenant/subtenant, in principle with the Commission de conciliation en matière de baux et loyers.

You are not allowed to proceed with the evacuation yourself without a decision from the authority.

You can find all the information on the steps to take with the Financial Services in the thematic guide Rental deposit.

Candidature

The sorting of applications is managed by the instance that has published an internship offer.
If you have any questions about your application, you can contact them directly.

Applications are processed electronically, and candidates will receive a reply by e-mail at the end of the recruitment process.

All our internship places are listed on the vacancies Newsletter of the State of Geneva. Please visit regularly the site where our offers are published.

As far as possible and to facilitate its consultation, your application file must be separated into
4 parts (CV, cover letter, copies of employer certificates and copies of diplomas). Only applications corresponding to an online advertisement will be examined.

All our internship places are listed on the vacancies Newsletter of the State of Geneva. Please visit the site regularly to consult our ads.

All our job offers are posted on the vacancies Newsletter of the State of Geneva. Please visit the site regularly to consult our ads.

Applications are processed electronically unless specifically requested by the instance, which will then indicate how to transmit your application file.

As far as possible and to facilitate its consultation, your application file must be separated into 4 parts (CV, cover letter, copies of employer certificates and copies of diplomas). At the end of the recruitment process, an extract from the register of convictions will be systematically requested from the selected candidates.
 

Labour law dispute

The Tribunal des prud'hommes intervenes only in private law disputes.

Disputes between the regular staff of the public administration and the latter are not judged by the Tribunal des prud'hommes, but by the Chambre administrative de la Cour de justice.

The Tribunal des prud'hommes is not competent to deal with disputes relating to cantonal or federal social insurance either. These disputes are generally dealt with by the Chambre des assurances sociales de la Cour de justice.

You can find all the information about the proceeding in the thematic guide Labour law dispute.

Yes, to consult the file related to a proceeding, please fill in the form Inspection of case documents.

To obtain a copy of a judgment, fill in the form Request for documents (certificate, attestation, copy, record).

To terminate a conciliation proceeding, fill in the form Withdrawal of a conciliation proceeding.

To terminate the proceeding in court, fill in the form Withdrawal of an application to court.

Decisions of both the conciliation authority and the court may be challenged in the manner indicated to you.

This is not mandatory but recommended, especially if your case is complex.

Before the conciliation authority, proceedings are free of charge regardless of the value in dispute.
In court, if the value in dispute exceeds Fr. 75'000.-, an advance payment on costs will then be requested according to art. 69 of the rules of order setting out the tariff of registries in civil matters 
(RTFMC - E 1 05.10), with the exception of GEA cases which are free of charge.

Value in dispute from Fr. 75'001.- to 100'000.- / Cost from Fr. 200.- to 2'000.-

Value in dispute from Fr. 100'001.- to 300'000.- / Cost from Fr. 1'000.- to 3'000.-

Value in dispute from Fr. 300'001.- to 1'000'000.- / Cost from Fr. 2'000.- to 8'000.-

Value in dispute from Fr. 1'000'001.- / Cost from Fr. 10'000.-

Legal advice

The mission of the Judiciary Power is to render justice impartially and to ensure the equal and fair application of the laws to all.

Therefore, it does not provide legal advice. However, you can contact a legal advice service, a trade union or a legal professional (for example, a lawyer) for legal advice in Geneva.

Access to the list

A selection of addresses is proposed in the page Legal advice service and legal counsels.

The Public Prosecutor's Office does not provide any legal information. A selection of addresses can be found in the page Legal advice service and legal counsels.

No, the Library does not provide legal advice. You must contact a professional (e.g., a lawyer) or a legal advice service.

See Legal advice service and legal counsels’ page

 

Contacts

No. To get in touch with the Judiciary Power, please visit the contacts page.

Yes, some courts have an e-mail address for the attention of litigants. The Office of the Secretary General of the Judiciary Power and the support directorates can be reached by e-mail.

To reach them by telephone, post or e-mail, please go to the contacts page.

The Public Prosecutor's Office can be contacted in various ways:

It is not possible to request an individual interview with a public prosecutor. Public prosecutors receive only the persons they have summoned.

Delivery of deeds

Tribunal civil

The document must be drawn up by the Tribunal civil, registered by the cantonal tax authorities, and paid in full by you (an payment slip will be sent to you to this effect) before it can be issued to you.

The processing time for a request to obtain a deed varies greatly depending on the type of deed to be issued (a few weeks or months).

Administrative formalities

Questions relating to residence permits should be addressed to the Cantonal Office for Population and Migration (OCPM).

Enquiries relating to the register of convictions should be addressed to the Federal Office of Justice.

Inmate(s)

You should fill in the form Request for authorisation to visit, sign it and send it to the Public Prosecutor's Office by post or as an attachment to an e-mail, enclosing a copy of your identity document.

After waiting at least 2 days, you can contact the registry of Champ-Dollon's prison to know the decision of the public prosecutor. If the visit is granted, you will be able to make an appointment directly with the prison.

Labour Court judge

The Tribunal des prud'hommes judges are not career magistrates: they exercise this function in addition to their main professional activity; they are lay judges or laymen.

They settle labour law disputes, the underlying principle being that these proceedings are judged by magistrates working in a field close to that of the parties.

The Tribunal des prud'hommes is composed of different professional groups, from which the judges are elected:

  • Group 1: industry, watch industry, construction
  • Group 2: hotels, restaurants and alimentary trade
  • Group 3: non-alimentary trade, trade, personal care, tourism and transport
  • Group 4: banking, insurance, security
  • Group 5: medical and legal professions, information technology, private education, journalism, domestic work and other professions not included in the other groups

This means, for example, that if you work in hairdressing or esthetics, you will be assigned to group 3 and will deal with cases in this field.

The Tribunal des prud'hommes is organized on a parity basis: it is composed of a president and 2 judges, one representing the employer and the other the employee.

You will assist the president with your professional experience and knowledge during the hearings, along with another judge.

Before the hearing, the president explains the case.

During the hearing itself, you participate in the investigation of the case by hearing the parties and witnesses.

At the end of the investigation phase, during the deliberation, you give your opinion and discuss the case and then decide, in agreement with the other members of the panel, whether or not the request is well-founded and what amounts should be granted.

The hearings take place in the evening. They start between 17h30 and 18h30 in one of the Judiciary Power's premises. The average length of a hearing is about 2 hours. However, some are shorter, others much longer.

The president has the authority over the hearing. She/he directs the debates. However, you will be requested and invited to ask questions.

Tribunal des prud'hommes judges are assigned to specific occupational groups, based on their experience or main professional activity (see the Tribunal des prud'hommes page).

You will therefore be assigned to the professional group that corresponds to your activity and will receive cases within your area of expertise.

You will sit on average between one and two evenings per month; the hearings are scheduled several weeks in advance and your availability will be taken into account.

The function of labour judge constitutes an activity that is secondary to your professional activity.

No, it is the knowledge of your profession and your professional experience that are required.

However, during the legislature, the Judiciary Power and the social partners organize a training course for you on labour law, civil proceedings and judicial organization; you can attend it in full or in part.

The courses take place in the evening or at lunchtime and are free of charge.

Although this training is not mandatory, it is highly recommended.

Yes, an indemnity is provided for in article 4 of the Rule relating to the indemnities allocated to various magistrates of the Judiciary Power, to the members of the Tribunal arbitral and to the members of the Conseil supérieur de la magistrature (RIPJ - E 2 40.03).

For the hearings:

  1. For the first hour: Fr. 190.-
  2. For each full additional hour: Fr. 30.-

It is recommended that you discuss this with your employer beforehand.

Tribunal des prud'hommes judges are elected by the cantonal Parliament every 6 years. The candidates for this function are presented to the cantonal Parliament by the social partners, i.e. the Union of Geneva Employers' Associations (UAPG) for the Tribunal des prud'hommes judges representing the employer side and the Geneva Community of Trade Union Action (CGAS) for the Tribunal des prud'hommes judges representing the employee side.

You must therefore contact either the UAPG or the CGAS if you wish to become a Tribunal des prud'hommes judge.

The conditions are set out in article 121 of the law on the exercise of political rights (LEDP - A 5 05).

In particular, you must be at least 18 years old and be able to provide a certificate of good conduct and an attestation that no certificate of shortfall is pending.

It is not necessary to be domiciled in the canton of Geneva.

If you are a Swiss citizen, you must have worked for at least one year in the canton of Geneva.

If you are unemployed, you are eligible but must have last worked in the canton of Geneva for at least one year.

If you are of foreign nationality, you must have worked in Switzerland for 8 years, the last year of which must have been spent in the canton of Geneva.

The age limit for serving as a labour Court judge is 72 years old.

If you were ideally born after January 1, 1958 and if you also meet the conditions of article 121 LEDP, you are eligible for the position of Tribunal des prud'hommes judge.

You can express your interest to the social partners at any time.

The next elections for Tribunal des prud'hommes judges will take place in autumn 2023, with a view to taking office in January 2024.

The beginning of the application process and the selection of the candidates takes place in principle 6 months before the election date.

Appointees/deputies

When instituting a deputyship, the court takes into account the extent of the need for assistance and adapts the measures it issues to the concrete situation. The court can pronounce 4 types of deputyship, from the lightest to the most restrictive for your autonomy, which can sometimes be combined.

Additional information is available on the Adult Protection page

 

You must contact the Court agent support Office in writing or by e-mail. Depending on your qualifications, you will be asked to provide a complete file (professional background and training courses taken in relation to the position, recent extracts from the debt enforcement register and from the register of criminal convictions, etc.) before your application is processed.

Yes, if you are appointed deputy, you are required to report regularly to the court on your activity.

However, when the mandate is entrusted to the spouse, registered partner, father and/or mother, descendant, brother or sister of the person concerned or to the person leading a de facto married life with him or her, the court may exempt the appointee from rendering reports if the circumstances so justify.

Even though you are exempt from making regular reports, the court may ask you about your mandate at any time.

You must make a written request to the court to lift the secrecy of office, explaining the grounds and reasons for the request. Your request will then be reviewed and accepted or rejected.

If you transmit information without prior authorisation from the court, you may bear civil or criminal liability.

During the hearing, the court may appoint a lawyer as deputy or ex officio deputy, whose role is to assist the person concerned throughout the proceedings before the court, to ensure that his/her rights are strictly respected and to represent him/her at the hearing if the person concerned cannot actively participate because of his/her health condition.

At the end of the investigation, the judge may decide, if necessary, on a protective measure and will then appoint a deputy or a protection deputy, who will have the task of assisting the person concerned and looking after his/her interests in the matters in which he/she may need assistance.

The remuneration of deputies and guardians is not subjected to VAT.

The remuneration of all other appointees is subjected to VAT and included in the court's tax decision.

The thematic page Deputies and protection appointees will answer some of your questions. For the rest, you can contact the court agent support office.

A guide is at your disposal, which contains information and report models useful for the execution of the mandate.

guide is at your disposal, which contains information and report models useful for the execution of the mandate.

Mediation

It is never too late as long as the parties are willing to reach an amicable solution to their conflict with the help of the mediator.

Mediation can be initiated at any stage of the judicial process or even outside of any court proceedings.

In the event it is initiated prior to the filing of a lawsuit, mediation can avoid the constraints and costs of court proceedings. If a legal proceeding is already pending, it can be suspended to allow the parties to enter into mediation.

The choice of mediator is made by mutual agreement between the parties.

In Geneva, the exercise of the profession of sworn mediator is subject to authorization by the state Council, which keeps a list of sworn mediators in civil and criminal matters available to the public.

The protagonists participate actively and voluntarily in the search for a solution to the conflict. Their commitment and cooperation are crucial to the success of a mediation.

In principle, mediation takes place in the presence of all the parties involved.

However, it is possible, at the request of the parties or the mediator, for people to temporarily isolate themselves with the mediator.

This is possible during a separate interview during the mediation phase.

A large number of mediators offer the possibility to set up a distance mediation, either for the whole process or on an ad hoc basis.

The mediator strives to reach a solution that is satisfactory to all parties involved. As opposed to a legal proceeding, there are no "winners" or "losers".

The parties are free to accept or reject the solution reached with the help of the mediator. They have the right to terminate the mediation at any time.

Payment Methods

You should get in touch with the Contraventions Service.

You can write to the financial services of the Judiciary Power, by attaching a copy of the relevant decision to your application.

You must indicate your bank or postal address and attach a copy of your identity card.

You must wait for a payment slip to be issued by the Contraventions Service.

To obtain a payment arrangement (extension of the deadline, payment by instalments), you can go to the Contraventions Service with the payment slip, your last tax assessment, your last salary slip and all the documents supporting your expenses.

Service des contraventions
Chemin de la Gravière 5, 1227 Les Acacias
T. +41 22 427 51 70
https://www.ge.ch/contraventions

You will receive a referenced payment slip to use for the payment of costs.

You can request a payment arrangement from the financial services by mail or by e-mail.

The desk of the financial services  is open from Monday to Friday from 9h to 12h.

For emergencies such as ex-parte interim measures, securities and seizures, the desk is also open from 14h to 17h.

Some payments can be made at the desks of the Tribunal de première instance and of the Public Prosecutor's Office

Summary penalty order

You will automatically receive a payment slip from the Contraventions Service once the summary penalty order is enforceable.

If you have any questions about payment arrangements, you should contact the Contraventions Service.

To obtain an adjustment of the terms of payment (extension of the deadline, payment by instalments), you are invited to go personally to the Contraventions Service with the payment slip you received, your last tax notice, your last salary slip and any supporting documents for your income and expenses.

Each summary penalty order mentions the steps to be taken to file an objection. You must write a letter within 10 days stating that you are contesting the decision received.

The objection must be submitted no later than the last day of the deadline to the Public Prosecutor's Office, the Swiss Post Office, a Swiss consular or diplomatic representation, or, in the case of detained persons, the Directorate of the prison establishment (art. 91 CrimPC).

Photos, videos of the Courthouse

Media requests for taking photos or videos must be submitted to the Direction de la communication of Judiciary Power.

Taking pictures or videos must comply with certain rules.

Persons in the background must not be identifiable unless they give their consent. The same applies to documents which must not be legible, even after the image has been enlarged.

Taking pictures, videos or recordings during hearings is prohibited and commercial purposes are outlawed.

For more information, see:

Plainte

You can go to a police station. A police officer will draw up a record of your statements.

You can also write directly or drop off your letter at the Public Prosecutor's Office. Your complaint must be signed and must describe the facts clearly and completely, with all the important elements (including date and place of the facts, context, names of the persons involved, possible witnesses, medical certificates, etc.). The legal qualification of the facts is not necessary, but it can be mentioned.

Your complaint must be filed within 3 months.

You cannot obtain information by telephone for reasons of confidentiality. You must make a request in writing to the Public Prosecutor's Office.

Any person who has been harmed by a criminal offence can file a complaint. To do so, it is sufficient to go to a police station where the statement will be taken. It is also possible to file a complaint by mail to the Public Prosecutor's Office or deposit it at the desk of this instance.

If the complaint is against a minor, it can also be sent directly by mail to the Tribunal des mineurs or deposited at the desk of this instance.

The complaint must be written and signed by the person directly affected by the subject of the complaint. The facts must be described clearly and completely, as well as all the important elements (in particular: date and place of the facts, context, names of the people involved, possible witnesses, etc.). The legal classification of the facts is not necessary, but it can be mentioned.

In the case of offences prosecuted only on a complaint, the time limit for filing the corresponding complaint is 3 months, starting from the day when the injured party knew the offender.

Proceeding

Public Prosecutor's Office

For confidentiality reasons, no information is given by the Public Prosecutor's Office on this subject.

You should fill in the form Request of photocopies and then return it signed to the Public Prosecutor's Office. You must then wait for the Public Prosecutor's Office to inform you about its decision.

The copies requested are charged at the tariffs in accordance to the Instruction C5.

You should fill in the form Request for inspection and then return it signed to the Public Prosecutor's Office. You must then wait for the Public Prosecutor's Office to inform you of its decision.

Tribunal civil

Yes, if your case is ongoing. You must send your request in writing to the judge in charge of your case.

If your proceeding is closed, you may request to access your file or obtain copies by filling in the suitable form.

Tribunal de première instance

You can bring a case to the Tribunal de première instance of Geneva if you or/and your spouse are domiciled in Geneva.

Tribunal pénal

Yes, if your case is currently underway. You must send your request in writing to the judge in charge of your case.

Tribunal administratif de première instance

The initiation of proceedings before the court requires the payment of an advance on costs. You are required to pay an advance on costs within 30 days. The amount is generally between Fr. 500.- and Fr. 900.-.

Please note that the request for an advance payment is sent to you by registered mail. If you do not pay the advance payment within the time limit, the appeal is declared inadmissible.

At the end of the proceedings, the court shall decide on the costs of the proceedings, including the fate of advance payment.

In practice, the court refrains from requiring the payment advance on costs in the following fields: compulsory measures, removal measures (domestic violence), supplemental insurance to compulsory accident insurance and expropriation.

You can act in person before the court, except in matters of compulsory measures. You may also be represented by a lawyer or by another professionally qualified representative, or even by your spouse, registered partner, an adult ascendant or descendant.

If your case is complex, you should be assisted by a professional.

If you do not have sufficient resources to defend your interests in court, you can apply for legal aid. This financial aid, granted under certain conditions, consists mainly of partial or total coverage of legal costs, including an advance payment on costs, and/or lawyer's or representative's fees. It is not free of charge: you will have to reimburse it as soon as you are in a position to do so.

You can consult your file at any time. To do so, all you need to do is contact the court desk so that your file can be made available to you for consultation.

When an appeal is lodged with the court, it is immediately assigned to one of the judges of the court of which the chamber’s number appears in every correspondence.

The judge sets a time limit for the authority which issued the decision to forward its case file and reply to the arguments presented by the appellant in his or her appeal.

Further exchanges of written submissions may take place.

The court conducts the proceedings in order to gather all the elements necessary to rule on the dispute (in particular hearings of the parties/witnesses, on site visit, written information, expert opinions).

When the court deems that it has all the elements necessary to rule on the dispute, the case is held to be judged. The court then renders its judgment which is notified to the parties. At the end of the judgment, the court decides on the proceeding's costs which are usually charged to the party losing the case.

The duration of a proceeding depends on many factors (complexity of the case, necessity and duration of the investigation). It is therefore not possible to give you a general indication of how long it will take for a judgment to be issued.

There is a charge for the proceedings, except in cases of administrative detention, compulsory accident insurance and expropriation. When the court renders its decision at the end of the proceedings, it decides on the costs of the proceedings, which are usually charged to the party who loses the case. If the appellant is successful, the advance on costs is normally reimbursed.

The costs of the proceedings include the fees (the fees charged in return for the court's intervention) and the outlays (the fees of experts, interpreters and translators, travel and attendance allowances and other expenses necessitated by the proceeding).

The judicial fee is set by the court according to the complexity of the case and the investigative and procedural acts carried out.

The court may award the party having wholly or partly succeeded in the action, a compensation for the indispensable costs caused by the action. The compensation is not awarded systematically, you must expressly request it. In principle, this compensation is charged to the party who has lost the case.

Cour pénale de la Cour de justice

The costs of the proceedings are borne by the parties insofar as they have won or failed (lost the case). The party whose appeal is inadmissible or who withdraws the appeal is deemed to have lost the case.

Adult protection

Advise the court in writing of any changes that have occurred since the appointment of the deputy (health, financial situation, family situation, etc.), and the reasons why you are requesting a change of deputy.

In the same letter, you can propose another person to take over the function of deputy.

Advise the court in writing of any changes that have occurred since the deputyship was established (state of health, financial situation, family situation, etc.) and explain why it is no longer appropriate.

Your deputy, your relatives or third parties (e.g., attending physician, financial advisor, social worker) may also write to the court about this issue.

Whenever possible, the deputy will involve you in the preparation of the report and provide you with a copy at your request.

Yes, the ordered expertises are necessary to set up a measure that best corresponds to your needs. To do so, you must attend the appointments set by the expert and answer the questions that you are asked.

If you do not go to the expert assessments, the court can force you to do so, including by calling the police.

In urgent cases, the court can issue a provisional decision (ex-parte interim measure or interim measure) at the beginning or during the proceedings. It will be valid immediately (enforceable immediately). At the same time, the court carries on with the ongoing investigation in order to decide on the implementation of a longer-term solution, adapted to your needs.

Discuss the matter with your deputy and if the disagreement persists, inform the court in writing, explaining your concerns.

The court will then question your deputy and decide what action to take.

You should report the matter to the police and the court.

The police will investigate the possible abuser while the court will assess the need to put in place a protective measure for the person in a state of weakness.

The advance care directive can be written in any language. However, when it must be sent to the court, the court may require a French translation at the expense of the person who drafted it.

If you feel that a person is in danger or that his/her situation requires urgent intervention, contact the police immediately by dialling 117 who will take the first steps to bring the person to safety and make the connection with the services in charge of adult protection.

Child protection

In case of disagreement, specialists (mediation structures, Parental separation assessment and support Service (SEASP), lawyers, legal assistance services, etc.) can help you find a solution.

If no agreement is found, you must refer the matter, by unilateral petition, to the competent court according to your situation (refer to Steps to set or modify parental rights).

No, a parent can't relinquish or delegate parental responsibility to someone else, even to a family member.

In case of impossibility of exercising parental responsibility (for example, the parents are under general deputyship), a guardian will be appointed or the exercise of parental responsibility will be entrusted exclusively to the other parent.

In the case of joint parental responsibility, the consent of the other parent is required if a change in the place of residence could have significant consequences for the exercise of parental responsibility or personal relations.

Parents who jointly exercise parental responsibility must seek to reach an agreement in order to develop solutions together that are consistent with the child's best interests.

In case of disagreement, specialists (mediation structures, Parental separation assessment and support service (SEASP), lawyers, legal assistance services, etc.) can help you find a solution.

If no agreement is reached, the matter must be referred to the court in fairly early time by way of a unilateral petition to allow the court to conduct an investigation and make a final decision in time.

If you exercise parental responsibility alone, you must inform the other parent of your intention to move.

If a proceeding is already underway, you must inform the court about the move.

When parents exercise parental responsibility jointly and one of them dies, parental responsibility automatically devolves to the surviving parent.

If the deceased parent has been exercising parental responsibility alone, the court assigns parental responsibility to the surviving parent or appoints a guardian to ensure the best interests of the child.

The surviving parent will be required by the court to make an inventory of the child's property.

The purpose of the AVS educational credits is to compensate when calculating the retirement pension, for the loss of income that a parent may have suffered because of caring for a child. Dividing them in half is in principle justified when the 2 parents participate approximately equally in the care of the child. When this is not the case, they go to the parent who assumes the greater part of the day-to-day care of the child. However, the parents are free to change this allocation at any time by co-signing a request to the AVS, which does not have to be submitted to the court for validation.

For further information, parents can contact the Cantonal social insurance Office for information on the allocation of educational credits. The court does not offer any advice on this subject.

Lack of financial means should not prevent you from acting if your child's welfare is at stake.

At the beginning of the proceedings, ideally, before you file your application, if you have limited financial means, you can file an application for legal aid to obtain financial assistance for the costs of the proceedings, or even the assistance of a lawyer.

Family expertise is ordered when the situation is particularly delicate (sharp parental conflict, child development problem, parental alienation). The expert is a specialized child psychiatrist who is assisted by an adult psychiatrist when the situation so requires.

During family expertise in the field of child protection, the family members (parents and children) will be interviewed. The family dynamics and the interactions between each parent and child are analysed to define the difficulties and needs of the child. The results of the assessment also allow for the identification of solutions to be considered in order to promote the proper development of the child.

The expert's report is communicated to all parties concerned who have the opportunity to express their opinions and ask the expert additional questions.

No, but in some cases, he/she may be assisted by a deputy who has been appointed to represent and assist him/her during the proceedings. If you have accompanied your child to court, you will be asked to wait in the waiting room.

You will only be able to attend the hearing if you have been summoned to appear at the same hearing.

Joint parental responsibility is the obligation for parents to make important decisions together for their child.

Joint custody is the custody arrangement that allows the child to live alternately with both parents, for example, one week out of two at one parent's home and the other week at the other parent's home or any other equitable distribution of custody time.

Joint custody is not automatic: when parents exercise joint parental responsibility, they can agree on joint custody. In the event of a disagreement and at the request of one of the parents, the court can also order joint custody.

The child is heard alone or assisted by a deputy appointed to represent and assist him/her in the proceedings conducted by the court which will ask him/her any question deemed necessary for a proper understanding of the situation. The questions are adapted according to the age of the child.

The parents will subsequently receive a copy of the record of the hearing.

You can recognize your child even after he/she has reached the age of majority by taking the necessary steps at the civil status office in your place of residence.

When the amount of the maintenance contribution (alimony) agreed between the parents or set by the court is not paid by one parent, the other parent can contact the Cantonal Service for the advance payment and recovery of maintenance (SCARPA).

If you wish to modify an existing maintenance agreement, steps must be taken with the court depending on your situation.

If you believe that a child is in danger or requires urgent intervention, contact the police immediately who will take the first steps to bring the child to safety and make the connection with child protection services (SPMi and SEASP).

The jurisdiction of the Swiss or French courts is determined by the child's habitual residence, i.e. the place with which the child has the closest ties (place of school attendance, medical care, leisure activities, acquaintances, etc.).

You must therefore apply to the competent court in the child's place of habitual residence by providing all the information you consider useful for making a decision. In the event of a dispute, the court will rule on its own jurisdiction.

Each mediator or mediation structure can set its own fees. They are often calculated according to the income of each parent. The total cost of mediation then depends on the number of sessions held and the rate charged.

Some legal protection insurances cover the costs of mediation. If you have limited financial means, you can apply for legal aid to obtain financial assistance for mediation costs.

When mediation has been ordered by the court in order to end the current proceedings, the cost of the first 3 sessions is covered by the court.

In order to be able to make a decision, the court must have all the decisions that have been made in the past. To obtain these documents, you must contact the Swiss or foreign authority that issued them and ask for certified copies.

When the parent-child relationship is established with each of the 2 registered partners, they are considered as married parents (see procedures for married parents).

Objection

Your appeal must imperatively contain, under penalty of inadmissibility (art. 65 LPA):

  • The challenged decision
  • The considerations (arguments) in support of the appeal
  • Your conclusions (what you request)

It is written in French, dated and signed by you or your representative.

Tribunal administratif de première instance

Your appeal must imperatively contain, under penalty of inadmissibility (art. 65 LPA):

  • The challenged decision
  • The considerations (arguments) in support of the appeal
  • Your conclusions (what you request)

It is written in French, dated and signed by you or your representative.

You can validly address your appeal to the court:

An appeal sent by e-mail to the Tribunal administratif de première instance, is not admitted.

The appeal and its documents are sent or filed with the court in as many copies as there are parties to the proceedings, plus one copy for the court.

The time limit for appeal is set by the law. In the majority of cases, the deadline for appeal is 30 days. To determine the time limit for taking action, you should refer to the decision you intend to contest, which normally includes the time limit for appeal and the designation of the competent court.

The period runs from the day following the notification of the decision.

If the appeal is not lodged within the appeal period at the desk of a Swiss post office or the court, the appeal will be declared inadmissible.

Cour pénale de la Cour de justice

The appeal must contain, on penalty of inadmissibility: the designation of the contested decision, the contested points of the decision, the reasons for requiring another decision (the arguments) and any supporting evidence.

The grounds for the appeal must be entirely contained in the act itself and may not be supplemented or corrected subsequently.

No, the appeal must be written in french.

The costs of the appeal proceeding are borne by the unsuccessful party (losing the case). The party whose appeal is inadmissible or who withdraws the appeal is also considered to have lost the case.

The Chambre pénale de recours may require the private claimant to provide security (guarantees) to cover potential costs and damages in the appeal proceeding.

If the required guarantees are not provided within the time limit, the appeal will not be processed.

Recovery of objects/assets

You should fill in the form Request for the return of the seized objects and send it, signed, to the Public Prosecutor's Office. You must then wait for the Public Prosecutor's Office to inform you of its decision.

If the summary penalty order commands the return of the seized property, you may, once the order has come into force, collect the property by making an appointment with the Greffe des pièces à conviction.

If the summary penalty order commands the restitution of the assets that have been seized, you can request, once the order has come into force, the restitution of the seized assets from the financial services of the Judiciary Power, by enclosing a copy of the order, your bank or postal details and a copy of your identity document.

If you have any questions regarding the restitution procedure, please contact the financial services of the Judiciary Power.

You should write to the Financial Services of the Judiciary Power by attaching a copy of the decision mentioning the return of the funds, a copy of your identity card and by indicating your bank or postal address.

Request

Tribunal civil

In principle, you must file the application and exhibits in duplicate (one set for the Court and one for your opposing party). If there are several opposing parties, as many copies as necessary must be filed for each of them, in addition to the one for the attention of the Court.

For example, if the dispute is between you and 2 people, you must submit 3 copies (one set for the Court, and one copy for each opposing party), and so on.

If the dispute also involves a minor child or children (divorce, protective measures for the marital union), an additional copy must be provided (for the Parental separation assessment and support Service (SEASP)).

You can withdraw your application by writing to the relevant Court by post (Tribunal de première instance, Tribunal des baux et loyers, Commission de conciliation en matière de baux et loyers) or by depositing a letter of withdrawal at the clerk's office of the Tribunal civil or at the Greffe universel, specifying the procedure number (if known). 

Note: a fee may be charged for withdrawal and if your opposing party has already had actions to perform, he/she may object to the withdrawal.

Yes, you will find them on the page Application forms.

Social networks

The Judiciary Power is present on social networks. You can consult the rules for the use of social media defining the policy in this area.

Security

As a visitor, whether or not you have been summoned to a hearing, no documents are required.

On the other hand, personnel of companies and service providers of the Judiciary Power must have prior authorization and present an identity document (see Conditions of access for companies and service providers).

Yes, security will hold dangerous prohibited items such as Swiss knives or authorized means of defence (pepper spray, etc.) at the entrance and return them at the exit. Illegal or prohibited items will be seized and the police will be notified immediately.

Yes, there are lockers for certain prohibited, non-hazardous items such as helmets or thermoses. These lockers are available to visitors (subject to availability).

Please note: bags or luggage are not allowed in the lockers and must be kept with you. Light means of transportation (skateboards, rollerblades, scooters, bicycles, etc.) are not allowed in the lockers, nor at the entrances to the Judiciary Power sites.

If you have a complaint or remark, please contact us by e-mail.

You can bring your medical certificate with you or simply tell the security guard.

Separation and divorce

You can find information on the steps to be taken before the Tribunal de première instance in the thematic guide Separation and divorce.

No, you are not obliged. However, it is highly recommended, especially if you have a disagreement with your spouse and the case is complex.

You can access the list of lawyers and legal advice services in Geneva.

The court decides, depending on the case, whether the children are heard in person.

At the end of the last hearing, the court may ask you to choose between 2 types of decisions:

  • A judgment without the grounds: the decision will include only the conclusions, i.e. the solution of the dispute.
  • A judgment stating the grounds: the document will present the reasons that led the judge to render his/her decision.

A judgment stating the grounds is more expensive than a decision without grounds.

Support to victims of violence

You can contact LAVI Center (assistance to victims of crime in Geneva).

Successions

Unlike court-appointed agents, the executor is appointed by the deceased in his/her will. Therefore, he/she is not mandated by the court.

The executor manages the estate on behalf of the heirs and prepares the division among the heirs. He/she may make any decision necessary to carry out his/her mission, which involves ensuring that the deceased's last wishes are respected.

The remuneration of the executor is determined by agreement between him/her and the heirs. In the event of a dispute, the Tribunal de première instance must be consulted to determine the remuneration. This remuneration is deducted from the estate's assets.

The court supervises the activity of the executor only on complaint. The executor is accountable to the heirs and not to the court.

The executor's duties end automatically when the division of the estate is complete. The executor may also resign at any time by applying to the court.

The executor is liable for any damage caused during the exercise of the mandate. In this case, the heirs may approach the executor directly or take legal action against him/her.

The Court contacts the surviving parent and asks for information about the child's assets, the amount of the child's share of the estate, and how it will be handled, to ensure that the child's interests will be safeguarded in the succession. The Court will appoint a deputy if it believes that the surviving parent may be endangering the child's property.

If the child has no legal representative following the death of the parent who had exclusive parental responsibility, a guardian is provisionally appointed for the time necessary for the Court to consider whether parental responsibility can be transferred to the other parent or whether a relative can assume guardianship.

The guardian is responsible for the maintenance and education of the child and for this purpose exercises the same rights as the parents, under the supervision of the court to which he/she is accountable.

The executor manages the succession in place of the heirs and prepares the division of the estate among the heirs. He/she can therefore make any decision necessary to accomplish his/her mission which consists of ensuring that the deceased's last wishes are respected.

The executor, designated by the deceased in his/her will, may be a relative.

The executor may resign at any time by submitting his/her resignation to the Court.

No, each heir can request a public inventory individually. The other heirs will be informed of the decision to draw up the public inventory. They will be summoned by the notary for signature. Only one inventory will be drawn up.

If you discover or have custody of testamentary dispositions, you must immediately transmit them to the Court, even if they appear to be invalid or revoked.

The Court (or the notary in the case of wills are deposited with him/her) then officially communicates the testamentary dispositions to the persons mentioned in the will.

After the death, it is the heirs who become, together, holders of the lease contract and debtors of the rent, unless they renounce the estate (renunciation).

In law, the heir who pays the rent or terminates the lease is considered to have accepted the estate, including its potential debts. He/she is therefore no longer entitled to renounce the estate.

As the heir, it is your responsibility to notify the agency and other creditors about the deceased. It is also your responsibility to pay any outstanding bills, unless you intend to disclaim the estate. If all the heirs have disclaimed the estate, the Cantonal Bankruptcy Office will take care of the payment of the outstanding bills.

There are 2 main types of wills, the holographic will (entirely handwritten, dated and signed) and the public will (made before a notary). Both of which have the same value.

The oral will (declared before 2 witnesses when one is in imminent danger of death or in the impossibility of writing a will and which must be announced immediately to the Court) is exceptional, although it has the same value as the 2 others.

If several people wish to make a will together, they must do so through a notary, in the form of a contract of succession.

The Court cannot provide any legal advice. It is up to you to contact a notary, a lawyer or a legal advice service, if you wish to be assisted in preparing your succession.

As long as the heir has not disclaimed the succession (renunciation), he/she takes the place of the deceased and assumes his/her debts on his behalf. She/he may therefore be subject to notices and debt collection proceedings.

You can get advice from a notary, a lawyer or a legal advice service if you need it.

When a person declares his/her will just before his/her death and when he/she is unable to write his/her will, he/she must do so to 2 neutral persons, who act as witnesses. This is called an oral will.

You must be accompanied by a second person so that the last wishes can be considered as oral will.

The will must then be immediately written down and signed by the 2 witnesses, mentioning the complete date and place where the person dictated the will. This document must be submitted to the court immediately.

The validity of this oral will is limited in time: if the person does not die and recovers the capacity to write a will, he/she will have to initiate steps to assert his/her will.

The first step in finding out who the heirs are is to request an inheritance certificate from a notary in Geneva.

If it is likely that other heirs exist but cannot be easily found, the Court, upon request of an heir, a creditor, a notary or of its own initiative, appoints an official estate administrator whose first task will be to obtain the complete list of heirs.

If the deceased person has mentioned you in his/her will, you will receive a letter from a notary or the Court telling you what the deceased wanted to leave you and what steps to take.

If you have moved recently or do not live in Switzerland, you can write to the court to inform it of your situation and ask if you are among the deceased's heirs.

For information on inheritance tax, you should contact the Cantonal tax Authorities (AFC).

By having not disclaimed the inheritance within the legal time limit, it is considered that you have accepted it without reservation. You should contact a notary, a lawyer or a legal advice service to find out how to proceed.

In some exceptional cases, the Court may grant a new delay. This requires a written request to the Court stating the extraordinary reasons that prevented you from renouncing within the legal time limit (application for a new delay).

Yes, if a heir wishes to accept the inheritance without reservation during the official liquidation, the latter is immediately halted.

You must contact the court as soon as possible to communicate your decision to accept the inheritance. You will then immediately become the owner of the estate's property and a debtor for its debts.

Before the end of the 3 month period following the death or the knowledge of your status as heir, you must send a written request to the court explaining the situation in detail.

The Court may grant you an extension of the deadline (application for extension of deadline).
During this time, however, you are still liable for the debts of the estate.

See also this question

 

Yes, you can withdraw your will at any time upon presentation of an identity card at the court desk.

If you are aware of a person who has died without family or a will, you should notify the Court immediately, making sure to mention the known status of his/her assets and debts, so that the estate can be placed under ex officio administration.

It will then be the administrator's responsibility to pay any outstanding bills, liquidate or store the contents of the home and notify creditors. If the liabilities exceed the assets, the estate is liquidated by the Cantonal bankruptcy Office.

To obtain a certificate of inheritance or for any questions related to this document, you must contact a notary in Geneva. The Court is not competent to issue certificates of inheritance.

Witness

This depends on the judge's agenda and the number of questions to be asked to the witness.

Anyone summoned as a witness by a court is required by law to appear. The only exception to this rule is a valid reason (e.g. illness), which allows a request to dispense with attendance or to postpone the hearing to a later date.

Translation and interpretation

You can contact the instance in charge of the proceedings directly.

For more information, consult the Contacts and access page

You can contact the Greffe des traductions et interprétations by phone at +41 22 327 62 45 or by e-mail.

You must send an e-mail without delay to the Greffe des traductions et interprétations, by indicating your impediment and specifying the language, date, time, instance and proceeding/case number.

You can send an e-mail to the Greffe des traductions et interprétations.

You can send an e-mail to the Greffe des traductions et interprétations.

You can send an e-mail to the Greffe des traductions et interprétations.

You must attach to your registration form the following documents:

  • Curriculum vitae
  • Copies of diplomas, if applicable with recognition issued by a competent institution in Switzerland, attestations, work certificates, etc.
  • Copies of an identity document and, if living in Switzerland, of the residence permit
  • Extract from the criminal record (original less than 3 months old)
  • Attestation from the debt enforcement office (not older than 3 months)
  • Certificate from the Bankruptcy Office (not older than 3 months)
  • Duly filled in questionnaire accompanied, if necessary, by a certificate of affiliation or form A1 for independent persons domiciled abroad

You can obtain recognition from a competent institution (for example, swissuniversities).

No, travel expenses are not compensated. Exceptions are possible if you live more than 100 km away from the canton.

You are not entitled to any compensation if the hearing is cancelled more than 24 hours in advance.

If the hearing is cancelled less than 24 hours in advance, you are entitled to a lump-sum payment of Fr. 80.-.

The lump-sum is increased to Fr. 150.- if the cancelled hearing was scheduled for half a day or more and to Fr. 300.- if the cancelled hearing was scheduled for more than one day.