Statement by the European Patent Office on the ruling by the Supreme Court of the Netherlands

20 January 2017

The Supreme Court of the Netherlands has today issued a ruling in a legal case related to a dispute generated by one trade union present at the EPO, SUEPO, against the Office. We welcome this decision by which the Court considers the Dutch courts as not competent to deal with this case, in application of the principle of immunity which is essential for the independence and functioning of any international organisation.

The Supreme Court acknowledges that the EPO's existing internal dispute resolution system is in line with the requirements under the European Convention of Human Rights concerning the right of access to legal redress. Under the internal dispute resolution system, individual employees and employee representatives also have recourse to the Administrative Tribunal of the International Labour Organisation, which is the competent court for hearing labour disputes arising at the EPO.

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