Credit Suisse Protesters Trial
Jurisdiction: Lausanne District Court
Side A: Credit Suisse (Corporation)
Side B: a dozen climate activists (Individual)
Climate activists arrested for trespassing
On January 13, 2020 a Swiss court ruled in favor of a dozen climate activists who occupied a Credit Suisse branch to protest the bank's fossil fuel investments. The judge concluded that because of the imminent danger of the climate crisis, the protesters' actions were necessary and proportional.
In November 2018, twelve climate activists wearing white sports clothes and wigs staged a tennis match at a Lausanne branch of Credit Suisse to protest the bank's fossil fuel investments and pressure tennis star Roger Federer to end his sponsorship arrangement with the institution. According to news reports, the protesters were charged with trespassing and fined 21,600 Swiss Francs ($22,000). On appeal, Judge Philippe Colelough concluded that the activists had acted proportionately to the imminence of climate danger and waived the fine. He wrote, "Because of the insufficient measures taken to date in Switzerland, whether they be economic or political, the average warming will not diminish nor even stabilize, it will increase," the judge explained. "In view of this, the tribunal considers that the imminence of danger is established. . . . The act for which they were incriminated was a necessary and proportional means to achieve the goal they sought."
The acquittal was overturned by the Swiss Court of Appeals in Renens on September 22, 2020. The Court convicted the defendants and ordered them to pay fines of up to 150 francs ($160). The Court reasoned that although the danger from climate change is imminent, the protesters could have used other means to protest the bank.
In a parallel case in Geneva, protesters were convicted in the trial court, and the conviction was overturned on appeal to the Court of Appeals in Geneva.
According to a lawyer in the Lausanne case, both cases have been appealed to the Swiss Federal Court and are awaiting a reply.
On December 1, 2020, a court in Geneva acquitted a protester from the same activist group who was charged with violating a law on demonstrating in public.