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Working from home abroad? Be mindful of court documents!

Under international law, it is illegal for any country to perform sovereign acts on foreign territory, which means that Swiss court documents cannot be served abroad.
With or without a redirection order, the Swiss postal service cannot deliver court files to foreign domiciles.

During the coronavirus pandemic, the chairman of the board of directors of a public corporation decided to relocate abroad for several months. He instructed the postal service to forward his correspondence to his holiday home by arranging a redirection order. However, due to the international law that prohibits sovereign acts on foreign territory, he was not served with a particular court document. The tax appeals court (Steuerrekursgericht) then duly filed the returned document – without informing the intended recipient either by email or telephone.

The latter then filed a complaint, however his claim was dismissed. As a Swiss taxpayer he was, according to the ruling, solely responsible for ensuring that he could receive the documents in question, and should have been aware of the consequences of spending a prolonged period abroad.

It was therefore the taxpayer’s responsibility either to inform the tax appeals court of his intention to spend several months abroad – or at the very least to ensure that somebody would collect his post from his Swiss address in his absence. The tax appeals court has no obligation to inform taxpayers other than by registered letter. (Source: BGE 2C_103/2021 dated 9/2/2021)

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