The exceptional situation due to the coronavirus means that people who wish to follow a public session at the Swiss Federal Administrative Court (party hearing or deliberations) must register in advance. The number of seats is limited, and the parties to the proceedings, party representatives and media representatives have priority for seat allocation.
Interested visitors and media representatives must register no later than three working days before the public session is held, using the contact form.
The Federal Office of Public Health hygiene and social distancing rules are to be strictly adhered to. It is advisable to allow sufficient time for security checks at the reception on the day of the hearing.
A public party hearing provides the parties, lower instances and possible other parties concerned the opportunity to express themselves in court on the matter in dispute. At the Federal Administrative Court, a public party hearing can only take place in proceedings relating to civil claims or criminal charges (see Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights). It is ordered by the instructing judge if a party demands such a hearing or if substantial public interests justify it (see Article 40 of Federal Administrative Court Act).
During a public deliberation on the judgment the judges decide on a matter in dispute. On this occasion the judges discuss their different arguments and finally vote on the outcome of the proceedings. A public deliberation is conducted at the Federal Administrative Court under the following conditions (see Article 41 of Federal Administrative Court Act):
- A decision is taken by a panel of five judges;
- The panel of judges has been unable to agree on the issue at hand;
- The President of the Division orders a public deliberation or a judge on the panel requests such a public deliberation.