The division sets a single date for the oral proceedings, i.e. one day or, in particular cases, more than one consecutive day. No pre-announcement of the date by phone or fax will be made. Oral proceedings may be set for any working day on which the EPO is open at the relevant site.
The summons will be accompanied by a note drawing attention to the points which need to be discussed, normally containing the provisional and non-binding opinion of the division. New documents may be cited in the annex to the summons (T 120/12), together with an explanation of their significance. However, the examiner must carefully consider on a case-by-case basis whether citing a new document would introduce a new line of argument. At an early stage in the procedure, he must consider sending a further communication before issuing any summons if a new document needs to be cited. For the additional requirements of the accompanying note if the summons is issued as the first action in examination, see C‑III, 5. The summons as well as the annexed communication can only be appealed together with the final decision unless a separate appeal is allowed (see E‑X, 3).
The summons will also fix a date up to which written submissions may be filed or amendments which meet the requirements of the EPC may be submitted (see also D‑VI, 3.2).
Harmonised with the standards applied in the written procedure (E‑VIII, 1.2), the practice outlined below is followed in setting the date of the oral proceedings to allow the parties sufficient time for preparing and filing submissions:
The summons must state that if a party duly summoned does not appear as summoned, the proceedings may continue without him.
In opposition proceedings as a rule, even oral proceedings requested on the basis of totally different grounds for opposition are conducted as a single set of proceedings.
In cases of multiple oppositions, all oral proceedings requested are dealt with in a single session, even if the oppositions are based on different grounds (see D‑I, 6). This means that all the parties must be summoned to attend them and may present comments on all grounds raised.