1.4.2 Adjournment of oral proceedings

Strict criteria are applied to amendments sought to be made after oral proceedings have been arranged. According to Art. 13(3) RPBA these amendments "shall not be admitted if they raise issues which the board or the other party or parties cannot reasonably be expected to deal with without adjournment of the oral proceedings." Thus, the parties' right to be heard and/or procedural economy take precedence over other considerations (T 232/08).

In T 188/05 the board held that the admission of the appellant's new submission would alter his case in a way that would raise issues which the board and the respondent could not reasonably be expected to deal with without adjournment of the oral proceedings. The material was therefore not admitted to the proceedings.

In T 1774/07 the introduction of the new documents into the proceedings without adjourning oral proceedings would have been contrary to the principle of equal treatment of the parties. The board thus concluded that the documents, independently on their relevance, were not to be introduced into the proceedings.

In T 232/08 the objection of lack of novelty based on document D11 was raised for the first time during the whole opposition and appeal proceedings at the oral proceedings before the board. Although lack of novelty was mentioned as a ground of opposition and was dealt with in the decision under appeal, it was not relied on at all in the statement of the grounds of appeal. In the board's view, the respondent had every reason to believe that novelty was no longer pursued as a ground of opposition in the appeal. The board considered that the respondent's right to be heard with regard to the novelty-objection based on document D11 would have been respected only if the oral proceedings had been adjourned or the case had been remitted to the department of first instance in order to allow the respondent adequate consideration of the appellant's objection. Consequently the board had decided not to allow the appellant to present its novelty objection based on document D11.

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