In the Enlarged Board's view, when considering the possible circumstances when it might be appropriate for an examining division to exercise its discretion under R. 86(3) EPC 1973
to allow an amendment after issue of a R. 51(6) EPC 1973
communication, it should be borne in mind that a request for amendment at that stage might arise either as a result of a realisation by the applicant of the need for amendment, or as a result of a point raised by the examining division, or as a result of consideration of observations made by a third party pursuant to Art. 115 EPC 1973
. In any of these circumstances, the discretion to allow amendment should be exercised according to the same principles. Of course, an objection should only be raised by an examining division at that stage of the proceedings if it was prepared to allow amendments to meet the objection. When exercising its discretion following the issue of a R. 51(6) EPC 1973
communication, an examining division had to consider all relevant factors
. In particular it had to consider and balance the applicant's interest in obtaining a patent which would be legally valid in all of the designated states, and the EPO's interest in bringing the examination procedure to a close by the issue of a decision to grant the patent. Having regard to the object of a communication under R. 51(6) EPC 1973
, which was to conclude the grant procedure on the basis of the previously approved text, allowance of a request for amendment at that late stage in the grant procedure would be the exception
rather than the rule.