Geneva, Switzerland - Legal problems can crop up unexpectedly, related to disputes with service suppliers, or the company that’s just delivered your new kitchen appliances, or even with health insurers.
The question is who to go to when we need quick legal help – of any kind – in Geneva and surrounding areas.
There are several permanences juridiques that offer quick, low-cost legal guidance to your rights under cantonal and Swiss law. These permanences offer legal advise on everything from health insurance to work permits and renter’s rights.
- The Bureau Central D’Aide Sociale offers affordable solutions and specialize in accident and health insurance. They offer free telephone consultations every Friday from 09:00 to 11:30 and from 13:30 to 16:30. Walk-ins are welcome on Tuesdays from 11:00 to 18:00. Consultations begin at CHF40 and climb to CHF80 for additional hours.
- The lawyers’ association of Geneva’s Permanence Juridique offers services Monday through Friday from 08:00 to 22:00. Their services include renter’s rights and legal advice for foreigners/expats regarding work permits. Their fees begin at CHF50 for a 30-minute visit.
- The oldest Permanence Juridique in Geneva also offers consultations in English, Italian, and German. However, you need to request an appointment as they do not accept walk-ins. The fee is CHF50 for a 45-min visit.
- Another option is the Permanence Juridique de Rive where CHF50 buys you a 30-minute meeting.
- You may also search for lawyers on the Geneva Bar Association website.
Residents in Lausanne and towns in Vaud should look up the Vaud State Bar if looking for information on lawyers in their canton. Walk-ins are welcome at the bar association’s offices in Lausanne, and they are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 16:00 to 19:00. Places are limited. A 15-minute meeting costs CHF40.
Similar options are available throughout French-speaking Switzerland: just look for the Permanence Juridique in your area.
GenevaLunch’s editor-in-chief, Ellen Wallace, tells us of another source of quick, affordable, legal help: consumers unions. Of these, the Fédération Romande des Consommateurs is key in the Lake Geneva region. Check out their rates page: membership is CHF50 a year and legal fees are lower if you are a member. They also offer a wealth of online information and advice about what your options are and what steps to take before you see a lawyer.
They provide a useful list of ombudsmen and mediators in Switzerland, some of which are federal offices while others are run by associations. The information is in French, but their telephone receptionists often speak English.