Elgar Encyclopedia of Comparative Law, Second Edition
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Elgar Encyclopedia of Comparative Law, Second Edition

Edited by Jan M. Smits

Written by leading authorities in their respective fields, the contributions in this accessible book cover and combine not only questions regarding the methodology of comparative law, but also specific areas of law (such as administrative law and criminal law) and specific topics (such as accident compensation and consideration). In addition, the Encyclopedia contains reports on a selected set of countries’ legal systems and, as a whole, presents an overview of the current state of affairs.
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Chapter 69: Switzerland

Pascal Pichonnaz


The official name of Switzerland is the Swiss Confederation (Die Schweizerische Eidgenossenschaft, La Confédération Suisse, La Confederazione svizzera). Swiss law has often been considered to be part of the Germanic family. Indeed, the influence of the German Pandectists has been important. First, they influenced the drafting of some cantonal codes (prior to the Swiss Civil Code), such as the Civil Code of the Canton of Zurich of 1853/1855, drafted by Johann Caspar Bluntschli, a student of Friedrich Carl von Savigny. However, other cantonal codes were influenced by French law and the French Civil Code, and some further codes were even inspired by the Austrian Civil Code. While drafting the Swiss Civil Code of 1907, Eugen Huber, the ‘father’ of the Swiss Civil Code, was very much influenced by the work of Bluntschli and the Pandectists; however, he also took into account the French legal tradition, which the French-speaking part of Switzerland was accustomed to. The Swiss Civil Code is therefore a sort of compromise between French and Germanic influences, but with the Pandectist approach having a greater impact. Similarly, the main drafter of the ‘Federal Code of Obligations’ of 1881, Walther Munzinger, was influenced by the (German) Dresdner Draft and the work of Bluntschli. Again, there has also been French influence in many respects. The Swiss Code of Obligations of 1911 has not changed drastically in this perspective, since it was mostly based on the former Code of 1881. Public law has been influenced by German dogma, keeping some important aspects of specifically Swiss historical experiences.

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