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Case Law of the Boards of Appeal

 
 
9.2.6 Legal restrictions for former board members

In G 2/94 (OJ 1996, 401) the Enlarged Board of Appeal noted that there was a potential conflict between what might be seen as a right of former board of appeal members to seek subsequent employment on the basis of their special knowledge by making oral submissions during proceedings before the EPO, and the need for proceedings before the EPO to be conducted free from any suspicion of partiality. The existence of such a potential conflict was well recognised in the context of national judicial systems, as was the approach to resolving it through a number of legal restrictions. The existence of such restrictions reflected the generally recognised principle of law that parties to legal proceedings were entitled to a fair hearing before judges who could not reasonably be suspected of partiality. The Enlarged Board of Appeal noted that it was therefore clear that the above potential conflict had to be resolved by avoiding any suspicion of partiality during the conduct of proceedings before the EPO. The public interest in the proper conduct of proceedings before the EPO had to prevail over the personal interest of former board of appeal members wishing to make oral submissions on behalf of parties to such proceedings. In the interest of the proper administration of proceedings before the EPO, it was necessary to place some restrictions upon the admissibility of oral submissions by former members of the boards of appeal during such proceedings. For more details with regard to the legal restrictions for former members of the boards of appeal, reference is made to Chapter III.R.5.2 "Oral submissions by former members of the boards of appeal".