Civilian drones are in vogue. Hobby pilots, private detectives and paparazzi are using them to monitor and spy on areas and people. So far, Switzerland has taken the view that restraint is required in the defence against such drone attacks. The BALEX lawyers Dr. Jascha Schneider-Marfels and Sebastian Kaufmann have reached a different conclusion within the framework of an academic investigation. Shooting them down is quite permissible.

Shooting them is permitted if there is an attack on the personality (Art. 28 ZGB). Examples include where a private detective spies on an adulterer with a drone, the paparazzi takes a family photo of the celebrity in his garden or the spurned lover films with a drone his beloved while sunbathing on her balcony. In such cases, a direct, illegal attack on the private individual is to be assumed.

The person concerned is acting in self-defence. The capture or shooting of a drone is justified in such a situation. The defence against an attack on the private individual by causing damage to, or destruction of, property is permissible – even in the case of an expensive drone model. A drone pilot who illegally enters foreign territory must expect this. He therefore bears the corresponding risk.

At best, a limit to the defence can be seen where by shooting the drone there is risk of physical harm to third parties. For example, if the drone floats above a human mass. In all other cases, from the point of view of self-defence it is generally an adequate defence to capture and destroy, with the result that the offender cannot be prosecuted under criminal and civil law for his actions.

The article written by our specialists has been published in the professional journal Medialex(