4.3.2 Announcing non-attendance

In T 3/90 (OJ 1992, 737) oral proceedings were appointed as a result of a party's request. The party subsequently stated that it would not be represented at the oral proceedings. The board held that such a statement should normally be treated as equivalent to a withdrawal of the request for oral proceedings (see also T 696/02, T 1027/03, T 1482/05, T 871/07, T 1229/12, T 2188/12). By stating that it will not attend oral proceedings and by requesting a decision on the record, a party unequivocally expresses that it is interested in an immediate decision on the file as stood and that it does not wish to present his arguments orally in the requested oral proceedings (T 1482/05).

In T 910/02 the board remitted the case to the department of first instance for further prosecution without oral proceedings, since all the parties who had presented their comments in the appeal proceedings had either withdrawn their request for oral proceedings or had stated that they would not attend oral proceedings. In such a case the board has discretion either to abide by the date for the oral proceedings in order to announce a decision, or to cancel the oral proceedings and issue a decision based on written proceedings. T 663/10 confirmed T 910/02, adding that the board was not obliged to hold oral proceedings in the absence of the party, even if the appellant had explicitly maintained its request for oral proceedings. In T 671/12 the board followed these decisions and held that it could not be the purpose of Art. 116 EPC that a party could oblige a board to hold oral proceedings in its absence.

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