6.1. Closure of the substantive debate

Art. 15(5) RPBA 2007 reads: "When a case is ready for decision during oral proceedings, the Chairman shall state the final requests of the parties and declare the debate closed. No submissions may be made by the parties after the closure of the debate unless the Board decides to re-open the debate."

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.

As long ago as T 595/90 (OJ 1994, 695) it was noted that submissions filed after closure of the debate could not be taken into account unless the board decided to reopen the debate.

In T 577/11 the board stated that as to the significance of the closing of the debate, the Enlarged Board of Appeal confirmed in G 12/91 (OJ 1994, 285) that, once the debate has been closed, further submissions by the parties must be disregarded unless the department allows the parties to present comments within a fixed time limit or decides to re-open oral proceedings for further substantive debate of the issues. These considerations of principle equally apply to proceedings before the boards of appeal (cf. R 10/08, R 14/10). In the aftermath of decision G 12/91 the principle that no submissions may be made by the parties after closure of the debate unless the board decides to re-open it is explicitly included in current Art. 15(5) RPBA 2007. Hence, the closing and also, as a rule, the re-opening of the debate are at the board's discretion.

In T 1629/06, the day before the oral proceedings, the appellant announced its intention not to attend the oral proceedings and requested, without reasons, that the procedure be continued in writing. The board dismissed the request.

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