Representation of natural or legal persons in proceedings established by the EPC may only be undertaken by professional representatives whose names appear on a list maintained for this purpose by the EPO (Art. 134(1) EPC). Any natural person who is a national of a contracting state, has his place of business or employment in a contracting state and has passed the European qualifying examination may be entered on the list (Art. 134(2) EPC; see also Art. 134(3) EPC). Legal practitioners from the contracting states are also entitled to act as representatives, subject to certain conditions (Art. 134(8) EPC), and persons resident or having their principal place of business in a contracting state may authorise an employee to represent them (Art. 133(3) EPC).
Art. 134a EPC, introduced under the EPC 2000, incorporates the substance of Art. 134(8) EPC 1973 and anchors in the Convention the existence of the Institute of Professional Representatives before the EPO ("epi"), which was set up under the Regulation on the Establishment of an Institute of Professional Representatives before the EPO (OJ 1978, 85; as amended: OJ 1997, 130 and 350, OJ 2002, 429, OJ 2004, 361 and OJ 2007, 12).
All persons on the list of professional representatives must be members of the epi (Art. 134a(2) EPC; Art. 5(1) of the aforementioned Regulation). They are subject to the Regulation on Discipline for Professional Representatives (RDR, OJ 1978, 91; as amended: OJ 2008, 14; OJ 2018, A57; see also Art. 134a(1)(c) EPC) and to the Code of Conduct of the Institute of Professional Representatives before the EPO (OJ 2003, 523).
The first-instance bodies which rule on infringements of the rules of professional conduct are the epi Disciplinary Committee and the EPO Disciplinary Board (Art. 5 RDR; see also Additional Rules of Procedure of the Disciplinary Committee and those of the Disciplinary Board, OJ 1980, 176, and 177 and 183, respectively; for amendments, see OJ 2007, 552. These provisions are also published in OJ Supplementary publication 1 of each year. The Disciplinary Board of Appeal (DBA) hears appeals against decisions of both these bodies (Art. 5, 8 RDR; see also Additional Rules of Procedure of the DBA – RPDBA, OJ 1980, 176 and 188; for amendments, see OJ 2007, 548). These provisions are also published in OJ Supplementary publication 1 of each year. DBA decisions on disciplinary matters are reported in this chapter V.C.3-5.
The European qualifying examination (EQE), referred to in Art. 134(2)(c) EPC, is governed in particular by the Regulation on the European qualifying examination for professional representatives before the EPO (REE, version in force from 1.1.2009, OJ 2009, 9, and also Supplementary publication 2, OJ 2019, 2) and its Implementing provisions (IPREE, Supplement to OJ 5/2009, 20; as amended: Supplementary publication 2, OJ 2019, 18). For the Instructions to candidates concerning the conduct of the EQE, see OJ 2022, A20.
A number of substantive changes were introduced by the 2009 version of the REE. These included the creation of a Supervisory Board (Art. 1(6), 2, 3 REE), which is responsible for adopting the IPREE (Art. 3(7) REE), and the introduction of a pre-examination (Art. 1(7), 11(7) REE, R. 10 IPREE). Other modifications were: simplification of the enrolment requirements in respect of academic qualifications and professional experience (Art. 11 REE, R. 11 to 15 IPREE); replacement of the rules on modular sitting by the option to take one or more papers at one sitting (Art. 15 REE); extension of the compensation system to all candidates (Art. 14 REE, R. 6 IPREE); streamlining of the appeal procedure (Art. 24 REE).
The DBA hears appeals against decisions of the EQE Examination Board and Secretariat (Art. 24 REE). DBA decisions in EQE cases are reported in this chapter V.C.2.6. Appeals decided under earlier provisions are referred to if considered still relevant.