BNS Attorneys at Law primarily advises and represents clients in matters involving liability law, insurance and reinsurance law, as well as transport law.
Our firm offers a wide array of advisory services from reviewing policy wordings and assessing commercial and (re)insurance contract issues, investigating and monitoring complex domestic and international claims on behalf of insurance carriers, advising on coverage and regulatory issues, to designing professional claims departments or handling entire claims portfolios.
Over the last few decades, our lawyers have handled numerous liability defence and insurance coverage disputes in all lines of business and at all levels of the Swiss court system. Our lawyers have also frequently assisted with foreign litigation and acted as party representatives or specialist arbitrators in international arbitration proceedings in Switzerland and abroad, including for example France and Bermuda.
Our firm also provides advice and representation in other areas of commercial law.
With many years of professional experience behind them – be it in various senior roles within the insurance industry or as partners in domestic and international insurance law firms – our lawyers are attuned to the needs and the challenges of the increasingly complex insurance business landscape.
Our professional offering in the area of liability law includes:
- General liability
- Professional liability, including medical and legal malpractice
- Product liability
- Commercial liability
- Directors’ and Officers’ liability (D&O)
- Motor and railroad liability
- State liability
Our services extend in particular to the following areas of insurance and reinsurance business:
- Professional and commercial liability
- Motor and personal liability
- Financial Lines and Specialty Lines: including directors’ and officers’ liability (D&O), fidelity and crime, professional liability including financial institutions’ professional indemnity (FIPI), employment practices liability (EPLI), cyber insurance, warranties and indemnities (W&I or M&A insurance), and event cancellation covers
- Property insurance
Coverage counselling, claims monitoring and loss adjustment:
- Liability and coverage assessments
- Insurance coverage defence
- Second and expert opinions
Insurance and reinsurance contracts:
- Review and revision of (re)insurance policy wordings
- Litigation before all Swiss courts
- Party representation in arbitration proceedings
- Standing as arbitrators in arbitration proceedings
- Design of claims organisations
- Assumption of claims department functions and handling of entire claims portfolios
We support our clients in all aspects of transport insurance.
Our services include the assessment of complex contractual frameworks inherent in the international transport and logistics business and advising on the resultant liabilities of freight forwarders, carriers and logistics providers.
We advise and defend clients against claims. We also handle subrogation claims and recovery proceedings on their behalf.
Our legal professionals provide a wide range of contract-related services to help clients avoid problems down the road, starting with assisting clients in challenging contract negotiations, drafting, reviewing and revising contracts and general terms and conditions, and if need be, enforcement of their contractual claims.
Our attorneys have many years of court experience and some have also served as specialist judges at the Commercial Court of Zurich or as clerks with other Zurich courts.
We are therefore well equipped to represent our clients in civil litigation and criminal proceedings before all Swiss courts and authorities. Our particular focus is on liability defence and coverage litigation. Our lawyers also act as party counsel or serve as arbitrators in insurance or reinsurance arbitration proceedings.
Drafting and review of commercial contracts and general terms and conditions
General legal advice
Communication with authorities
New look – same values
Serving clients with passion and competence has been at the centre of our work for 15 years. We are proud to be able to count ourselves among the leading Swiss law firms for liability and insurance law. These accomplishments would not have been possible without the trust and unwavering support of our esteemed clients, the members of our great team, as well as friends and family. Thank you and may the years to come be even more exciting and enriching!
City of Zurich not liable for tram accident caused by pedestrian distracted by his mobile phone
Swiss Federal Supreme Court Decision 4A_179/2021
On 20 February 2019, a pedestrian was seriously injured in a collision with a tram (streetcar). The pedestrian was standing at a tram stop with his back to the approaching tram and his eyes on his mobile phone when he abruptly entered the track area without looking to the left. In doing so, he was hit by an incoming tram. He demanded compensation from the City of Zurich as the owner of the transport company on the basis of Article 40b Para. 1 EBG (Federal Railway Act). Both the District Court and the Cantonal Appellate Court affirmed the liability of the City of Zurich. The Federal Supreme Court, however, upheld the federal appeal filed by the City. The issue in dispute before the Federal Supreme Court was whether the city can discharge itself from liability on the basis of gross negligence on the part of the pedestrian.
The Court considered that a third party's conduct only constitutes a main cause for the collision where such conduct must be seen to be the prevailing factor, such that the cause attributable to the liable party no longer appears to be legally relevant for the injury that occurred. The accident had occurred at a clear location and in good weather. Furthermore, the pedestrian was familiar with the location and aware of the dangerous situation, which he had brought about unnecessarily. The pedestrian's conduct was therefore considered to be violation of traffic regulations and thus seen as the main cause of the accident. Hence, the Court found the City of Zurich not be liable for the accident.
Commentary: The Federal Railway Act (EBG) provides for non-contractual strict liability. This means that fault is not a prerequisite for liability. The owner of a railway company is thus not afforded the possibility of attempting to exonerate himself by proving that he exercised due care. The only possibility for the owner to exempt himself from liability arises from Article 40c EBG which requires gross negligence on the part of a third-party. Looking to the left and to the right before crossing a roadway is considered an elementary traffic rule. The failure to observe this simple precautionary measure in our view rightly amounts to gross negligence.