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Case Law of the Boards of Appeal

 
 
2.2. Register of legal practitioners

The register of legal practitioners must be clearly distinguished from the list of professional representatives established in accordance with Art. 134(1) to (4) EPC.

Whereas, according to Art. 134(4) EPC 1973, the entry of a person's name in the list of professional representatives entitles them to act in all proceedings established by the EPC 1973, the EPC 1973 does not contain any corresponding provision for legal practitioners. Their competence to undertake representation before the EPO is not general, but depends directly on their complying with the provisions of Art. 134(7) EPC 1973 (J 27/95).

The objective of the list of professional representatives is to provide a survey of particularly qualified representatives in patent matters; it would be jeopardised if legal practitioners without such qualifications were included on the list. Accordingly, the conditions for entry on the list of professional representatives under Art. 134(2) EPC 1973 also apply to legal practitioners (D 14/93, OJ 1997, 561).

According to the practice of the EPO, legal practitioners who indicate their intention to undertake representation in proceedings before the EPO and present an authorisation are entered in a register of legal practitioners, provided that they comply with the requirements of Art. 134(8) EPC. The Legal Division is responsible for checking these requirements and for the registration of names in, or deletion from, the register of legal practitioners (see also J 27/95).

In J 18/99, a further issue concerned the appellant's registration as a legal practitioner under Art. 134(7) EPC 1973. The board noted that the appellant, a legal practitioner ("abogado") in Spain, had requested registration as a legal practitioner entitled to act in proceedings established by the EPC in accordance with Art. 134(7) EPC 1973 without filing a signed authorisation, whereas according to the practice of the Legal Division legal practitioners were registered only if they had filed a signed authorisation from a party. The board therefore remitted the case to the Legal Division with the order to register the appellant, provided that he filed the signed authorisation.