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Law firm providing services to an arbitral tribunal is exempt from VAT

03 September 2009

Authors: Nathalie Voser, Petra Rihar

In a public deliberation followed by a 4 to 1 decision of 19 June 2009, published on 28 August 2009, the Swiss Federal Supreme Court decided that a law firm was not liable for VAT since the firm's work for an arbitral tribunal (the Claims Resolution Tribunal for Dormant Accounts) was covered by Article 23(1) of the Swiss Federal Act on Value Added Tax, which grants VAT exemptions for charges arising from the "functions of arbitration". While the fees of legal counsel representing parties before an arbitral tribunal are subject to Swiss VAT (if the services are rendered in Switzerland), the fees of arbitrators are exempt. In its decision, the Court held that this exemption also applies to support staff of arbitrators to the extent that the staffs services are either ancillary to the functions of arbitrators or concern activities that are part of arbitral functions.

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Published in Practical Law Arbitration


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