According to the established practice, the closing of the debate marks the last moment in the oral proceedings at which parties can still make submissions (T 595/90, OJ 1994, 695; G 12/91, OJ 1994, 285; R 10/08; R 14/10).
In T 577/11 the board held that if the debate on a particular topic had been closed without announcement of a decision on the matter, the board had discretion over whether it would re-open the debate and over the extent to which it would do so. A decision given orally by a board became effective and binding by virtue of being pronounced (see G 12/91). It excluded any re-opening of the debate. In addition to announcing a decision or re-opening the debate, the board could announce conclusions of its deliberations or invite the parties to discuss the next topic. A re-opening of the debate was an exception (cf. R 10/08) and there was no right of a party to have the debate re-opened.
With regard to re-opening the debate before the EPO departments of first instance, see T 683/14.
In T 888/17 the board held that there was no provision in the EPC pursuant to which a board was under an obligation to render a decision at the end of the oral proceedings and that it lay within the discretion of the board to continue the proceedings in writing if it considers that the matter was not ripe for a decision.