As part of public law, criminal law governs the entitlement of the state to impose criminal sanctions on offenders. Compared to the Swiss legislation as a whole, criminal law is a relatively small area. Nevertheless, it enjoys a high level of public attention. This is because, in contrast to private law, the sometimes-spectacular cases are published in the media.

Criminal law not only protects life and limb, but also assets and property, secret sphere and privacy, nature, or fair competition. The legal rules can be found partly in the Criminal Code itself, but partly also in various other legal enactments such as the Competition Law, Tax Law, Environmental Law etc. Criminal law is developing with society and is constantly changing like society itself.

For companies, an important change in law took place in 2003 and can be found in Art. 102 of the Swiss Criminal Code: The previous rule that, for lack of criminal liability, no criminal sanctions could be imposed on companies was abolished and it became possible to sanction a company, under certain conditions, with a fine of up to CHF 5 million.

Criminal liability risks concerning employees, board members or the company itself should not be underestimated in economic life. Effective compliance is essential for careful corporate management. Specifically, appropriate risk management must ensure that business-critical criminal law provisions are known and staff and management are sensitised to these provisions and trained accordingly. Every company should be anxious to avoid any criminal proceedings. In particular, because it is oftentimes not possible to remedy the damage to a company's reputation caused by a criminal investigation, even in the event of an acquittal.

BEELEGAL has long-standing experience in criminal law and white-collar criminal law and is able to support its clients efficiently in planning and implementing compliance in criminal law as well as to represent companies, its executive bodies and employees in criminal proceedings.


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