General enquiries: The Geneva Motor Show has been cancelled due to the spread of the Coronavirus in Switzerland. Who will compensate the financial losses?

After hours of speculation, the verdict has come down: the motor show will not take place this year because of the coronavirus.

This unprecedented measure is a consequence of a decision by the Federal Council to ban any event with more than 1000 people between 28 February and 15 March.

This decision has many economic implications: the losses amount to millions of francs, not only for the Motor Show itself, but also for the Palexpo congress centre, losing a third of its annual turnover, the hotel and catering sectors and, of course, the visitors. 

What are the legal bases for such a decision? Who will compensate for all this? We answer this question in this article.

The Federal Council has acted in accordance with the Federal Law on the Control of Communicable Diseases in Humans. It has decreed a “special situation” for Switzerland, based on Article 6 of this law. https://www.admin.ch/opc/fr/classified-compilation/20071012/index.html  

The situation is said to be “special” if :

  • The executive bodies cannot prevent the spread of the disease;
  • There is a high risk of infection and spread within the population,
  • There is a risk for public health,
  • There is risk to the economy and vital sectors of the country ;
  • The WHO declares an international health emergency.

 

It goes without saying that Switzerland is in such a situation. The public authorities therefore have the right to act accordingly. 

The Federal Council can order measures aimed at individuals and the population, in consultation with the cantons. If the situation is “extraordinary”, which is not the case today, it can take decisions in consultation with the cantons. 

The cancellation of the motor show was caused by a measure aimed at protecting the population, the legal basis for which is article 40 of the federal law. 

The Federal Council and the cantons may impose a total or partial ban on events (art. 40, para. 2 (a)). However, this will have to be reviewed in the light of developments in the situation. 

The Federal Council has thus acted completely within the law by banning demonstrations by more than 1,000 people.

 

This unprecedented case of force majeure has its consequences. Numerous economic losses are expected. For the Motor Show, we are thinking of visitors, exhibitors and organisers. Who will compensate them? 

The compensation will not be made by the public authorities. Indeed, measures ordered on the basis of Article 40 are not eligible (Art. 63).

The Motor Show has already announced that it will reimburse all tickets to visitors. 

For the rest, everything else will depend essentially on insurance and force majeure clauses in the contracts.

In particular, travel insurances can reimburse travel and hotel expenses. Exhibitors are probably covered by insurance policies that provide for such situations. 

Also check the cancellation policies of airlines and hotels! 

This kind of unprecedented situation is detrimental to many players. Whoever you are, it is important to assert your rights so that you do not suffer too great a loss. Our specialised Lawrence lawyers will be able to assist you in this process. We will do our best so that you can be compensated!

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