4.3.2 Sudden serious illness

In T 525/91 the board found it credible that the sudden and unforeseen diagnosis of illness and the announcement of the urgent need for a major operation caused the appellant's representative not only great physical weakness but also severe psychological stress. In those circumstances, and in view of the short period between diagnosis and hospital admission (two working days) and the proven absence of the secretary on one of those working days, it had to be acknowledged that even on the days between diagnosis and admission the representative had been in an exceptional situation which impeded him from devoting the necessary attention to the imminent time limit and taking the precautions needed to ensure that it was observed. In the circumstances the board deemed the conditions for re-establishment to have been met (see also the reference in T 1401/05 to T 558/02).

In T 387/11 the representative put forward a credible case that he had failed to observe the time limit for filing the statement of grounds because of severe psychological stress caused by a sudden and unexpected bereavement.

One thing that must be borne in mind in this context however is the case law on requirements governing a satisfactory system for monitoring time limits, which has to include an effective system of staff substitution in case of absence. Re the duty of care in a large firm see T 324/90 below; re the applicant's duties see T 1401/05 below; re the duties of a representative running a one-person office see J 41/92 below; and re the duty of care of an individual applicant see J 5/94.

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