Summary penalty orders and other orders

The principle of freedom of information not only guarantees proper and lawful treatment for parties to criminal proceedings, but also allows the general public to follow the proceedings.

Official public notice must be given of a judgment in a criminal case unless it is given at a public hearing. This applies to summary penalty orders and abandonment of proceedings and no-proceedings orders from the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG), because these are issued directly by the OAG and not as part of a criminal trial.

However, freedom of information does not mean that persons who are not parties to the proceedings have an unrestricted right of access to all summary penalty orders or abandonment and no-proceedings orders issued by the OAG. The interest of the person requesting access must in each case be weighed against any special interests of the judicial authorities or third parties concerned in preserving secrecy. Requests for access cannot be allowed to jeopardise the smooth running of the criminal justice system.

The OAG assesses each request. If there are special interests in preserving secrecy that outweigh the right to access, the applicant will be notified of this in the application process. 

Summary penalty orders

The summary penalty orders issued by the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland are freely accessible. There is no need to claim any special interest in having access. 

However, please note that special rules apply to access to files relating to jihadist terrorism (for further information, see the end of this page).

Abandonment of proceedings orders

Applicants seeking access to abandonment orders must demonstrate a legitimate interest in the information and explain why access is required.

According to Federal Supreme Court case law, journalists do not have to demonstrate a legitimate interest in information. They are therefore basically entitled to access any abandonment orders issued by the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland, unless access would be contrary to overriding public or private interests.

For applicants who can demonstrate a legitimate interest in the information or journalists, the following principles apply to access to abandonment orders.

No-proceedings orders

Applicants seeking access to no-proceedings orders must demonstrate a legitimate interest in the information and explain why access is required.

According to Federal Supreme Court case law, journalists do not have to demonstrate a legitimate interest in information. They are therefore basically entitled to access any no-proceedings orders issued by the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland, unless access would be contrary to overriding public or private interests.

For applicants who can demonstrate a legitimate interest in the information or for journalists, the following principles apply to access to no-proceedings orders. 

Special rules for summary penalty orders and orders related to terrorist cases