XIV. REPRESENTATIVES, EPI, DISCIPLINARY MATTERS
XIV.4 - Additional Rules of Procedure of the Disciplinary Committee of the Institute of Professional Representatives before the European Patent Office (OJ EPO 1980, 177 as amended in OJ EPO 2007, 552)
The Disciplinary Committee of the Institute of Professional Representatives before the European Patent Office provided for in Article 5(a) of the Regulation on Discipline for Professional Representatives of 21 October 1977 (hereinafter called the "Discipline Regulation") hereby adopts under Article 25, paragraph 2, thereof the following Additional Rules of Procedure:
The Chairman and the Secretary of the Committee
(1) Following the setting up of the Disciplinary Committee under Article 11 of the Regulation on the Establishment of an Institute of Professional Representatives before the European Patent Office, the members of the Committee shall elect from among themselves a Chairman, a deputy Chairman, a Secretary and a deputy Secretary. They are elected by a simple majority of votes of those members who have actually voted. In the event of a tie, the decision shall be taken by lot.
(2) In case the Chairman or the Secretary is prevented from attending to his duties he shall ex officio be replaced by his deputy. Should the Chairman and his deputy or the Secretary and his deputy be unable to attend a meeting, the members present shall elect a chairman or a secretary who will act as such at that meeting.
(1) The Committee, as constituted for the examination of any alleged breach of the Rules of Professional Conduct which is brought to the Committee's notice in writing, shall consist of three members, nominated by the Chairman of the Committee, hereinafter called a "Chamber".
(2) The Chairman of the Committee shall nominate one of the members of the Chamber as Chairman of that Chamber and at least one other member of the Committee as alternate member of that Chamber.
(3) The Chairman of the Committee may, if necessary, subsequently nominate one or more further members of the Committee as alternate members of that Chamber.
Replacement of members
(1) Reasons for replacement by alternates shall, in particular, include conflicting interests, sickness, excessive workload and commitments which cannot be avoided.
(2) Any member requesting to be replaced by an alternate shall inform the Chairman of the Chamber concerned of his unavailability without delay.
(3) The Chairman of the Committee may designate another member of the Committee to replace the Chairman of the Chamber concerned.
Exclusion and objection
(1) If the Chairman has knowledge of a possible reason for exclusion or objection which does not originate from the member himself or from the professional representative concerned, then the Chamber shall decide as to the action to be taken without the participation of the member concerned. For the purpose of taking this decision, the member concerned shall be replaced by an alternate nominated by the Chairman of the Chamber.
(2) The member concerned shall be invited to present his comments as to whether there is a reason for exclusion.
(3) Before a decision is taken on the exclusion of a member, there shall be no further proceedings in the case.
(1) The Chairman of the Disciplinary Committee shall, with the approval of the President of the Council of the Institute of Professional Representatives before the European Patent Office, appoint a member or an employee of the Institute of Professional Representatives before the European Patent Office, hereinafter called the "Institute", to act as Registrar to the Disciplinary Committee. A further member or employee of the Institute shall be appointed by the Chairman to act as deputy Registrar where the Registrar is unable to act.
(2) The Registrar shall, in particular, monitor any time limits relating to matters before the Disciplinary Committee, including the time limit prescribed in Article 6, paragraph 3, of the Discipline Regulation.
(1) The Chairman of the Chamber shall, for each matter, designate a member of the Chamber, or himself, as rapporteur.
(2) The rapporteur may conduct preparatory inquiries in accordance with Articles 15 and 25, paragraph 1, of the Discipline Regulation; he shall prepare draft communications, carry out other preliminary work and draft decisions.
(3) Draft communications and decisions shall be sent to the other members of the Chamber designated to consider the matter, who shall either approve them or make suggestions for amendment. If no agreement can be reached by this means, the Chamber shall meet to decide jointly on the final text.
(4) Communications shall be signed by the rapporteur on behalf of the Chamber.
(5) The rapporteur shall make the preparations for meetings and oral proceedings. He will set out the issues that need to be determined and, if necessary, send a communication to the professional representative concerned to this effect.
(6) If the rapporteur considers that his knowledge of the language of the proceedings is insufficient for drafting communications or decisions, he may draft these in one of the other official languages of the European Patent Office. The drafts shall be translated, unless the Chairman of the Chamber otherwise directs, by the Secretariat of the Institute into the language of the proceedings and the translations shall be checked by the rapporteur or by another member of the Chamber.
(1) On request, the Registrar shall explain how a complaint should be formulated and filed.
(2) A complaint shall be in writing addressed to the Disciplinary Committee. It shall be signed by the complainant or any legal advisor or professional representative acting on his behalf and shall include the name and address of the complainant.
(3) A complaint shall not be considered to have been brought to the notice of the Disciplinary Committee until it has been received by the Registrar in one of the official languages of the European Patent Office.
(4) The Registrar shall:
a) register each complaint together with the date of receipt;
b) immediately send copies of the complaint to the Chairman and the Secretary of the Disciplinary Committee, to the President of the Council of the Institute and the President of the European Patent Office;
c) notify the Chairman of the Disciplinary Board of the European Patent Office of the receipt of a complaint and of the date of receipt.
(5) The Chairman of the Disciplinary Committee shall without delay nominate a Chamber and assign the complaint to that Chamber.
Procedure following receipt of a complaint
(1) Unless a complaint is summarily dismissed on the ground mentioned in Article 18 hereof, the Chamber concerned shall, without delay, send a copy of the complaint, together with a reference to where these Rules of Procedure are published, to the professional representative concerned, who shall be given a period of two months after receipt by him of the copy of the complaint to present a written defence, which shall be addressed to the rapporteur.
(2) During this period, the professional representative concerned may request oral proceedings. If he does so, he shall be invited to attend a hearing and copies of the invitation shall be sent to the President of the Council of the Institute and to the President of the European Patent Office.
(3) If the professional representative concerned does not reply in writing or attend the hearing, then the Chamber may take a decision on the basis of the available material.
(1) Minutes of oral proceedings and of the taking of evidence shall be drawn up by the rapporteur or the Registrar or such employee of the Institute as the Chairman of the Chamber may nominate. Rule 124 EPC shall apply mutatis mutandis to the taking of such minutes.
(2) The Chairman of the Chamber may direct that tape recordings of any oral evidence and of any oral statements may be made in addition to minutes of such evidence and statements.
Language of the proceedings
(1) The language of the proceedings before a Chamber shall be one of the official languages of the European Patent Office, decided upon by the Chamber. The Chairman of a Chamber may decide to accept documents and to hear witnesses in another language, provided that a translation into one of the languages of the European Patent Office is supplied if one of the members of the Chamber so requires.
(2) If the professional representative concerned so requires, he shall receive translations into his own language of all documents relating to his case and he may defend himself in his own language.
(3) If oral proceedings are to take place and, at least two weeks before the date laid down for such proceedings, the professional representative concerned requests interpretation into and from his own language, the Chairman of the Chamber shall make the necessary arrangements.
Change in the composition of the Chamber
(1) If the composition of the Chamber is changed after oral proceedings, the professional representative concerned shall be informed that, at his request, fresh oral proceedings shall be held before the Chamber in its new composition. Fresh oral proceedings shall also be held if so requested by the new member and if the other members of the Chamber have given their agreement.
(2) The new member shall be bound to the same extent as the other members by an interim decision which has already been taken.
(3) If, when the Chamber has already reached a final decision, a member of the Chamber is unable to act, he shall not be replaced by an alternate. If the Chairman of the Chamber is unable to act, the member of the Chamber having the longer service on the Disciplinary Committee or, in the case where members have the same length of service, the elder member, shall sign the decision on behalf of the Chairman.
Consolidation of complaints
(1) If several complaints are made relating to the same or different acts of the same professional representative, they may be considered in the same proceedings.
(2) If several complaints relating to different professional representatives are designated to be considered by the Chamber in a common composition, the Chamber may deal with these complaints in consolidated proceedings with the consent of the professional representatives concerned. Such consent shall not be required in cases dealing only with failure to pay subscriptions in accordance with Article 6, paragraph 1, of the Regulation on the Establishment of an Institute of Professional Representatives before the European Patent Office, hereinafter called the "Establishment Regulation".
(1) If oral proceedings are to take place, the Chamber shall endeavour to ensure that all relevant information and documents have been provided before the hearing.
(2) The Chamber may send with the invitation to oral proceedings a communication drawing attention to matters which seem to be of special significance, or to the fact that questions appear no longer to be contentious, or containing other observations that may help concentration on essentials during the oral proceedings.
(3) If oral proceedings take place, the Chamber shall endeavour to ensure that each case is ready for decision at the conclusion of the oral proceedings, unless there are special reasons to the contrary.
Communications to the professional representative concerned
If, before a decision is taken, the Chamber deems it expedient to communicate with the professional representative concerned regarding a possible appreciation of substantive or legal matters, such communication shall be made in such a way as not to imply that the Chamber is in any way bound by it.
Deliberations preceding decisions
If the members of the Chamber are not all of the same opinion, the Chamber shall meet to deliberate regarding the decision to be taken. No other person except other members of the Disciplinary Committee authorised by the Chairman of the Chamber to attend as observers, the Registrar and any interpreters attending in accordance with Article 10 hereof may be present during deliberations of the Chamber.
Order of voting
(1) During the deliberations between members of the Chamber, the rapporteur's opinion shall be heard first and, if the rapporteur is not the Chairman, the Chairman's last.
(2) If voting is necessary, votes shall be taken in the same sequence, even if the Chairman is the rapporteur, he shall vote last. Abstentions shall not be permitted.
(1) Unless the complaint is dismissed, the decision shall state which Rule of Professional Conduct has been violated and which recommendation, if any, made in accordance with Article 4(c) of the Establishment Regulation, has not been observed. Rule 111, paragraph 2, shall apply mutatis mutandis.
(2) A decision shall be signed by the Chairman of the Chamber.
Procedure following summary dismissal of a complaint
If a complaint is summarily dismissed by a Chamber on the ground that it clearly discloses no facts upon which an allegation of breach of the Rules of Professional Conduct could be made against the professional representative concerned so that it is, therefore, not necessary to call upon him to present a defence, then:
a) the complainant shall be informed accordingly by letter;
b) the persons mentioned in Article 7, paragraph 4 hereof shall be sent copies of the said letter and of the decision;
c) the professional representative concerned shall be sent a copy of the said letter, a copy of the complaint and a copy of the decision.
Procedure following a decision
(1) It is a matter for the discretion of the Chamber whether the complainant shall be informed of the result of the proceedings by being sent a copy of the decision or in some other manner.
(2) Following a decision to refer the matter in accordance with Article 6, paragraph 2(c), of the Discipline Regulation, the Chamber concerned shall transmit to the Disciplinary Board:
a) the name and address of the professional representative concerned;
b) the complaint;
c) any defence filed;
d) any comments of members of the Chamber and of the Presidents of the Council of the Institute and the European Patent Office respectively;
e) an indication of the language of the proceedings (if any);
f) the decision taken by the Chamber;
g) any other documents which the Chamber considers relevant.
Publication of decisions
It shall be within the discretionary power of the Chamber to authorise the President of the Council of the Institute wholly or partly to communicate decisions to the members of the Institute or to publish decisions without, however, revealing the identity of the professional representative concerned and the complainant, unless they respectively consent to be named.
Entry into force
These Additional Rules of Procedure shall enter into force on the date on which they are approved by the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation.
Done at Munich, 9 April 1980
For the Disciplinary Committee of the Institute of Professional Representatives before the European Patent Office