Legal risk is a threat businesses tend to give for moving to Switzerland, not one cited as a reason to leave.

On Friday, however, Swiss lawmakers will debate a proposal that critics say threatens to deluge companies in litigation and drive hundreds from transacting business through the wealthy alpine state.

The Responsible Business Initiative, which has been wending its way through the political process in Bern for three years, is straightforward in its intent.

Companies based in Switzerland, it states, will be liable for the misdemeanours of their subsidiaries worldwide — and potentially liable for the conduct of any organisation