Swiss Court of First Instance prohibits transfer of bank employee’s data to US authorities

10. Dezember 2014 – On 4 December 2014, an employee of a Swiss bank obtained an ex-parte preliminary injunction prohibiting the transfer of his/her personal data to US authorities. The preliminary injunction was granted by the District Court of Zurich.

The background of this decision is the tax dispute between the USA and Swiss banks. In this regard, the Swiss Federal Counsel granted various banks the authorisation to cooperate with US authorities to resolve their tax dispute, which results in an exemption from art. 271 of the Swiss Criminal Code for the transfer of requested data to US authorities. However, authorised banks still have to comply with other applicable Swiss laws, in particular Swiss data protection and employment law provisions.

The decision of the District Court of Zurich has not (yet) been published and its reasoning is not known. Nevertheless, following the recent case of the District Court of Horgen (see news) in which a similar ex-parte preliminary injunction was obtained, the District Court of Zurich most probably held that the employee credibly showed the threat of a possible prosecution by US authorities.

The ex-parte preliminary injunction has entered into force. It will now be up to the bank to provide a counterstatement if it wishes to challenge the injunction.