Under Art. 117(1)(c) EPC, in any proceedings before, inter alia, an opposition division or a board of appeal, the means of giving or of taking evidence may include the production of documents. As the EPC neither defines the term "documents" nor gives any indication of the probative value of such documents, the principle of free evaluation of evidence applies. Any kind of document therefore, regardless of its nature, is admissible during proceedings before the EPO, including appeal proceedings (T 482/89, OJ 1992, 646). The term "documents" in Art. 117(1)(c) EPC was defined in T 314/90 as meaning essentially all written documents in which thoughts are expressed by means of characters or drawings, including published documents. In T 795/93 the board was of the opinion that a document as a means of disclosing the state of the art was a means of proof with a variety of functions. It was intended first to prove what had been made available to the public in the written description it contained, i.e. what contribution in the form of information, knowledge, teaching, etc. it made to the state of the art, and also served to prove when such information had been made available.
In T 71/99 the minutes of the proceedings as taken by the opposition division did not provide a full account of the conduct of the oral proceedings. To show the board what had actually happened, the respondent submitted part of a copy of a report of the opposition proceedings which had been dictated by his representative in the course of those proceedings. The appellant argued that this document should not be admitted, albeit without disputing the facts set out in it. Since the submitted part of the report was significantly more precise and not difficult to understand, the board saw no reason to disregard the evidence.