Selling in Switzerland – the Basics

Dr. Martin Eckert

The most important channels of selling in Switzerland are local agents or distributors. Foreign companies may also market their products and services through employed sales persons, local branches or local subsidiaries. The different channels are subject to different legal frameworks.

Switzerland provides an excellent infrastructure for companies operating in the greater European area and offers attractive opportunities for foreign companies wishing to sell their products and services in Switzerland, Europe and the Middle East. Many multinationals use Switzerland as hub for their EMEA sales activities.

Sales organizations may benefit from Swiss law since, after termination of the agency, no goodwill payment (compensation for clientele) is due according to Swiss distribution law under certain circumstances.

A typical choice of law clause reads as follows:

This Agreement shall be governed by and construed and interpreted in accordance with the substantive laws of Switzerland, excluding the Swiss conflict of law rules. The United Nations Convention for the International Sales of Goods ("Vienna Sales Convention") is excluded.

Please note that for distribution into the EU market, the principal-friendly Swiss law is overruled by mandatory EU law. EU law provides for a mandatory goodwill payment in favor of the agent and the distributor.

Agency and Distribution – The Basics

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