4.1.2 Request or reasons for postponement filed too late

The provisions of Art. 15(2) RPBA and the 2007 Notice balance the interests of the parties and the public taking into account, among other factors, an efficient use of resources and capacities of the office. Thus, a request for postponing the date of oral proceedings may be refused if it is late filed (T 601/06, see also T 1102/03 and T 1053/06).

In T 1080/99 (OJ 2002, 568) the board had made it clear in a letter sent almost three months before appointed oral proceedings that a request by a party for postponement of the oral proceedings did not meet all the requirements of the 2000 Notice. The party, instead of attempting to supplement its original request as soon as possible, chose to react to the board's letter only one week before the appointed oral proceedings. The board held that the additional reasons and evidence for the request for postponement and the fixing of a new date for oral proceedings were received too late and could therefore not be accepted.

In T 601/06 the board considered the request to postpone the oral proceedings to be late filed. The representative should have been aware when receiving the summons that he would be prevented from attending the oral proceedings and should have filed his request immediately. Filing the request more than one month later was not considered to fulfil the requirement of "as far in advance of the appointed date as possible" as required under Art. 15(2) RPBA or "as soon as possible" as required in the 2007 Notice.

In T 485/09 the representative had requested a postponement of the oral proceedings before the board of appeal because he had already booked a vacation for the relevant date. The board rejected the request. An attorney who wished a change in the date of an oral proceedings had an obligation to inform the board promptly of this desire. In the case at issue the attorney had waited five weeks before informing the board of his non-availability.

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