Originally published in OJ EPO 2007, Special edition No. 3, 115:
Notice of the Vice-President of Directorate-General 3 of the European Patent Office dated 16 July 2007 concerning oral proceedings before the boards of appeal of the EPO
Since 1 November 2000 the procedure set out below has been used for fixing the dates of oral proceedings before the boards of appeal. This procedure has been approved in co-operation with former DG 2 (now DG 1) and after discussion in the Standing Advisory Committee before the EPO (SACEPO).
1. The boards of appeal fix one single date for oral proceedings. A pre-announcement of the date is not made.
2. Oral proceedings appointed by the EPO will be cancelled and another date fixed at the request of a party only if the party concerned can advance serious reasons which justify the fixing of a new date. The request to fix another date shall be filed as soon as possible after the grounds preventing the party concerned from attending the oral proceedings have arisen. The request shall be accompanied by a sufficiently substantiated written statement indicating these reasons.
2.1 Serious substantive reasons to request the change of the date for oral proceedings may be, for instance:
- a previously notified summons to oral proceedings of the same party in other proceedings before the EPO or a national court,
- serious illness,
- a case of death within the family,
- the marriage of a person whose attendance in oral proceedings is relevant,
- military service or other obligatory performance of civic duties,
- holidays which have already been firmly booked before the notification of the summons to oral proceedings.
2.2 Grounds which, as a rule, are not acceptable are, for instance:
- a summons to oral proceedings before the EPO or a national court notified after the summons in the relevant proceedings,
- excessive work pressure.
2.3 Every request for fixing another date for oral proceedings should contain a statement why another representative within the meaning of Articles 133(3) or 134 EPC cannot substitute the representative prevented from attending the oral proceedings.