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Case Law of the Boards of Appeal

 
 
4.1.2 Rules of Procedure of the Boards of Appeal (RPBA)

The provisions of the RPBA governing the admissibility of late requests essentially codify the boards' settled case law on this point (T 87/05). Art. 12 and Art. 13 RPBA (not amended, formerly Art. 10a and Art. 10b RPBA 2003, entry into force on 1 May 2003) are essentially aimed at concentrating the parties' submissions at an early stage of the proceedings, to ensure that the case is as complete as possible when it is processed. In particular, amendments which would lead to an adjournment of the oral proceedings should not be admitted. Their purpose is therefore to expedite the proceedings and implement the principle of fairness towards the other party or parties. It follows from this that parties to appeal proceedings are subject to certain restrictions as far as their procedural conduct is concerned. For example, it is a matter for each party himself to submit all facts, evidence, arguments and requests relevant for the enforcement or defence of his rights as early and completely as possible (T 162/09).

Under Art. 12(2) RPBA, the statement of grounds of appeal and the reply must contain a party's complete case and should, inter alia, specify expressly all the facts, arguments and evidence relied on. Under Art. 13(1) RPBA, the boards have discretion to admit and consider any amendment to a party's case after it has filed its grounds of appeal or reply. This discretion must be exercised in view of, inter alia, the complexity of the new subject-matter, the current state of the proceedings and the need for procedural economy. Art. 13(3) RPBA adds that amendments sought to be made after oral proceedings have been arranged may 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".

Art. 13(1) RPBA thus governs the implications of an initially incomplete case and the admission of later amendments. Art. 12(4) RPBA expressly refers to the boards' power to exclude requests which could have been filed in the first-instance proceedings.