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In brief

In this update, we set out the extent to which new Swiss ESG reporting, disclosure and due diligence requirements apply to Swiss companies and foreign companies operating in Switzerland. We also provide further details about the due diligence requirements in relation to conflict minerals and child labor, and give an overview of developments outside of Switzerland that are relevant for Swiss companies doing business abroad, including the recently proposed EU Directive on Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence and the German Supply Chain Act. Finally, we share some of the key points senior leadership should consider as extended ESG reporting and due diligence obligations take shape in Switzerland and abroad.
 


Where do we stand in Switzerland in terms of ESG reporting and due diligence requirements? The bigger picture

As we reported in our Client Alert of December 2020, on 29 November 2020, the Swiss electorate voted against the so-called Responsible Business Initiative, which would have opened up Swiss companies to litigation in Swiss courts for alleged violations of international human rights or environmental laws abroad. However, as a counter-proposal to this initiative, the Swiss Parliament introduced new general ESG reporting and specific reporting and due diligence requirements in the area of conflict minerals and child labour that are viewed as more moderate.

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Author

Christoph Kurth heads the Investigations, Compliance & Ethics practice of the Swiss offices. Further, he is a member of the EMEA Steering Committee Compliance & Investigations and co-leads the EMEA Financial Institutions Industry Group. He has been recognized by Legal 500 as a leading individual for compliance, regulatory and investigation matters. Before joining the Firm, Christoph was global head of Litigation & Investigations and general counsel in Asia for a large Swiss bank. For over 10 years, he has led complex regulatory and criminal investigations as well as high stakes litigation across the US, Europe and Asia, and has advised on transformational regulatory developments and wealth management products and services across Switzerland and Asia. In his roles, Christoph has worked closely with business leaders, government authorities and the media, navigating businesses through regulatory and other challenges. Prior to this, Christoph was a litigator in leading practices in Switzerland and the US. Christoph also teaches post-graduate courses in 'Crisis Management' and 'Risk Governance' at the Europa Institute at the University of Zurich.

Author

Philippe M. Reich currently serves as head of the Firm's Antitrust, EU and Trade Law Practice Group in Switzerland. He has been a member of the Steering Committee for the EMEA International Trade and Commerce practice group and is currently a member of the EMEA Competition Law, International Trade and Commerce and Transactional practice groups. Philippe has been regularly recognized as a leader in his field in Who's Who Legal and as a notable practitioner in Legal 500 and Chambers, while the Swiss practice is ranked "Highly Recommended" in GCR, "Recommended" in Chambers and Tier 2 in Legal 500. Philippe is also the EMEA representative on the Steering Committee of Baker McKenzie's Global India Focus Group, Chairman of the Swiss Indian Chamber of Commerce and forms the Indian Desk of Baker McKenzie in Switzerland.

Author

Corinne Nacht is an associate in Baker McKenzie's Dispute Resolution and Compliance & Investigations practice groups in Zurich. She graduated from the University of St. Gallen (HSG) in 2015. Subsequently, Corinne worked as a trainee lawyer for Baker McKenzie Zurich and for a smaller law firm in the Canton of Thurgau. She was admitted to the bar and rejoined the Firm in 2019.

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