Report from the Disciplinary Committee meeting in Dublin on 11th and 12th May 2017

M. Névant (FR)M. Névant (FR)

As a reminder, the Disciplinary Committee (DC) is set up by the epi Council, as mentioned in article 11(1) of the Regulation on the establishment of an Institute of professional representatives before the European Patent Office[1] (the "Founding Regulations"); members of the DC are appointed by Council each time the latter is elected (article 11(2) of the Founding Regulations).

Members of the current DC were appointed for a three-year term by the epi Council during the 82nd Council meeting on 25th April 2017, and met for the first annual meeting of the new 3 year term on 11th and 12th May 2017.

The general principles governing the conduct and other activities of professional representatives are laid down in the Regulation on discipline for professional representatives[2] (which comprises two parts: Rules of professional conduct, and Disciplinary measures) and in the Code of Conduct of the Institute of Professional Representatives before the European Patent Office[3]. The functioning of the DC is governed by specific rules of procedure[4] which have been defined by the DC in the past and which have been confirmed by the Disciplinary Board of Appeal and adopted by the Administrative Council of the EPO; this functioning will be presented in more detail in a subsequent issue of epi information.

The DC is a Committee different from other committees that can be set up by Council (the German name indicates the difference: Disziplinarrat) in the sense that whilst Council fixes the terms of reference of "other Committees", however only the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organization can amend the Regulation on discipline and/or the Additional Rules of Procedure which are the basic laws for the DC.

The most important role of the DC is to maintain the public reputation of epi and to ensure that professional representatives before the EPO "exercise their profession conscientiously and in a manner appropriate to their dignity". In practice, the DC considers any alleged breach of the Rules of professional conduct which may be brought to its notice. Further the DC publishes decisions, in order to inform the epi Members.

The DC consists of experienced members, the vast majority of which have served several terms; the turnover of Members in the Committee is low, hence ensuring that the role mentioned just above is carried out in a very efficient and expert manner.

The main purpose of the DC's annual meeting is to keep its members trained and this year's meeting made no exception to the rule, as situations encountered during the past 12 months were discussed to the benefit of all members and especially the new DC-members who gained a valuable insight of how disciplinary matters are handled within the Committee. In this year's meeting, Officers of the DC were elected as follows: Paul Rosenich, Chair, Werner Fröhling, Deputy Chair; Tuna Yurtseven, Secretary; Wolfgang Poth, Deputy Secretary.

The DC also reflected on the evolution of the profession as well as on the functioning of the committee in the coming years. To this end, the members attended a training session on mediation dispensed by Mr Brian O'Byrne from the Mediator's Institute of Ireland. The members also attended a presentation from Mr Giorgio Checcacci, chair of the epi Professional Conduct Committee, about possible amendments to be made to the Code of Conduct in order to address activities of professional representatives before the UPC. The members also had the opportunity to exchange views with Mr Chris Mercer, former epi President and a member of the epi Reporting Group; various topics were discussed, such as for example potential improvements in the functioning of the Committee and the availability of anonymised decisions to all members. This proved to be very useful.

All in all the meeting was a success. The next meeting is scheduled to take place in Prague in May or June 2018. It is indeed the policy of the DC to meet once in all Member States in order to also make the principles of epi disciplinary views, practice and organs more visible at a national level.

  1. See EPO OJ 2017 - supplementary publication 1 - pp 114-120
  2. See EPO OJ 2017 - supplementary publication 1 - pp 127-137
  3. See EPO OJ 2017 - supplementary publication 1 - pp 121-126
  4. See EPO OJ 2017 - supplementary publication 1 - pp 138-147