Having regard to the function of the Boards of Appeal as the judicial instance of the European Patent Organisation (EPO), to the obligation under Article 23 EPC of the Members of the Boards of Appeal to comply only with the provisions of the EPC independently of any instructions, and to the need arising therefrom to protect the integrity of these Members as a judiciary;
Having regard also to the standards for protecting the independence of judges enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and to the Declaration that the EPO adheres to general legal principles including human rights, as adopted at the 55th meeting of the Administrative Council of the EPO from 13 to 15 December 1994;
The undersigned Members of the Boards of Appeal have decided to form the Association of the Members of the Boards of Appeal, which is governed by the following Statutes:
The purpose of the Association is to monitor issues of relevance for the judicial functions of the members of the boards of appeal, especially with a view to safeguarding their independence and promoting their self-government as members of a judiciary, and to gather its members for deliberations on questions of common interest, in order that they will be heard in bodies deciding or making proposals of relevance for these functions.
The Association is non-profit making. Its funds can be used only for the purposes listed in Article 1. Its Members, Associate Members and Honorary Members cannot receive any remuneration deriving from Association funds.
The seat of the Association is in Munich, Germany. The financial year of the Association is the calendar year.
(1) Organs of the Association are:
(a) the Members General Assembly (MGA);
(b) the Secretary-General;
(c) the Deputy Secretary-General;
(d) the Treasurer;
(e) the Committee, having five Members including the Officers under (b), (c) and (d);
(2) The Association elects two Auditors, who need not be Members.
(3) The Officers, Members and Auditors are elected for one year and may be re-elected.
(1) Members, including the chairs, of the Technical Boards of appeal, of the Legal Board of Appeal and of the Enlarged Board of Appeal pursuant to Article 11 of the European Patent Convention are qualified to become members of the Association ("Ordinary Members") with full voting rights, subject to the payment of the annual fee as prescribed in Article 6(1).
(2) Former members of the boards of appeal are qualified to become associate members of the Association ("Associate Members") with the following rights of membership. Associate Membership is free and confers no voting rights. An Associate Member is entitled to attend all social events as well as by specific invitation of the Committee any other event (members' meetings, talks, etc). The Committee may appoint individual Associate Members to carry out an advisory function as a member of a sub-committee.
(3) The Committee may propose to the MGA to appoint as Honorary Members any person who has contributed in a remarkable way to the aims of the Association. Honorary Members are exempt from payment of the annual membership fee. They have no voting rights. Their remaining rights of membership correspond to those of Associate Members.
(4) Applications for ordinary or associate membership shall be made to the Committee. A membership shall be confirmed by the Committee, if the applicant is qualified under paragraph (1) or (2) and the Committee is provided with the applicant's email address, in particular for the electronic transmission of invitations, documents, etc.
(5) Wherever a quorum is required, "Member" means an Ordinary Member entitled to vote.
MEMBERSHIP FEES - CESSATION OF MEMBERSHIP
(1) Ordinary Members pay an annual membership fee which is set by the MGA. Payment of the annual fee is due at the latest at the end of April each year.
(2) Membership ceases upon resignation by the member concerned or upon exclusion by the Committee, which is to be confirmed by the MGA. An Ordinary Member who has not paid the annual fee at the end of December is deemed to have resigned from the Association as at the end of that year.
(3) Without prejudice to paragraph (2), Ordinary Membership shall in any event cease when a person ceases to be a member of the boards of appeal. On application, the member concerned may become an Associate Member in accordance with Article 5.
THE MEMBERS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
(1) An MGA shall be summoned upon the initiative of the Committee or if at least one third of the Ordinary Members of the Association request it. The MGA may be held by video-conference.
(2) The MGA provides a forum to
(a) discuss matters of common interest for its members;
(b) determine the position of the Association on particular issues;
(c) decide opinions to be issued on behalf of the Association.
(3) The MGA has the power to
(a) pass a motion of no confidence in the Committee, if a majority of the Ordinary Members of the Association present so request, in which case the Committee is obliged to call an MGA to elect a new Committee without delay;
(b) levy an extra fee;
(c) elect replacements for Members of the Committee;
(d) exercise any other power referred to in Articles 15 and 17, as the need arises.
(e) exclude a member who has manifestly abused the interest of the Association.
The annual MGA has a quorum when at least one third of the Ordinary Members of the Association are present. Otherwise a new annual MGA has to be summoned by the Committee within two months, whereupon a quorum is reached when at least ten Ordinary Members are present. A quorum of ten Ordinary Members is also required for other MGAs.
(1) Decisions at MGAs are taken by a majority vote. Each Ordinary Member present at the meeting has one vote. Nobody is allowed to vote by proxy. If the votes at an election are equal, the election is decided by a second ballot. For all other questions the chairman has the casting vote. In matters concerning the election of persons to the Committee under Article 4, secret ballots are cast. Secret ballots shall also be ordered if requested by an Ordinary Member present and this request is seconded by at least two other Ordinary Members present.
(2) Ordinary Members may offer themselves as candidates for membership to the Committee if seconded by at least two other Ordinary Members. Associate Members and Honorary Members are not eligible to sit on the Committee, but may sit on sub-committees under Article 13 (5), if so decided by an MGA or if invited by the Committee in a consultative capacity.
(3) At the election of persons to the Committee under Article 4, each Ordinary Member may vote for up to five candidates.
THE SECRETARY - GENERAL
The Secretary-General represents the Association and chairs the Committee and the MGA. On or before 31 January, the Secretary-General submits an annual written report on the Committee's activities during its term in office. Copies of this Annual Report are to be distributed together with the invitations to the annual MGA.
THE DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL
The Deputy Secretary-General replaces the Secretary-General in the latter's absence and organises the taking of minutes at MGAs and Committee meetings.
Article 12 The Treasurer is responsible for the management of the financial activities of the Association. On or before 31 January, the Treasurer submits an annual written report for the previous financial year on all such activities, including cash receipts or payments, as well as an account of the Association's assets and liabilities (balance account). Copies of this Annual Report are to be distributed together with the invitations to the annual MGA.
(1) The Committee holds its own meetings when necessary according to the Secretary-General or when at least three of its members have requested it. After its members have been elected by an MGA, the full Committee is to meet within three weeks to elect the Secretary-General, Deputy Secretary-General and Treasurer among themselves.
(2) The Committee has a quorum when at least three of its members are present.
(3) Decisions of the Committee are taken by a majority vote. In case of a tied vote, the chairman has a casting vote.
(4) Subject to these Statutes, the Committee governs the activities of the Association, in particular by preparing all meetings and handling its daily affairs.
(5) The Committee may appoint Ordinary Members to form subcommittees or invite Associate Members or Honorary Members in a consultative capacity to sit on such sub-committees.
The auditors shall examine the Annual Report of the Treasurer and propose to the annual MGA whether or not to discharge the Committee Members for their handling of the affairs of the Association for their period in office.
THE ANNUAL MEMBERS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
(1) The annual MGA is held in the beginning of each year, at the latest during the month of March, at a place decided by the Committee. Invitations, including the agenda for the MGA, are to be sent to all Ordinary Members at least four weeks in advance. The annual MGA may be held by video-conference.
(2) The agenda for the annual MGA shall contain at least the following items:
(a) approval of the agenda for the meeting;
(b) presentation of the Secretary-General's Annual Report;
(c) presentation of the Treasurer's Annual Report;
(d) presentation of the Auditors' Annual Report;
(e) discharge of the Committee Members and Association Officers for the previous year;
(f) election of the Members of the Committee for the next term in office and of two Auditors for the same period;
(g) the amounts of the annual membership fee;
(h) any other business.
Any dispute between an Ordinary Member, an Associate Member or an Honorary Member and the Association concerning the application of these Statutes shall be referred to an arbitration panel of three Ordinary Members, one of which is appointed by the Secretary-General, one by an MGA, and one by the member concerned. The Secretary-General or, in case of disqualification or absence, the Deputy Secretary-General represents the Association as one party to the dispute. The arbitration panel organises itself in order to hear the parties to the dispute and decide it.
(1) An amendment of these Statutes requires that at least two thirds of the votes cast support the amendment. Amendments are adopted by the annual MGA, or, if the matter is urgent, by an MGA summoned as prescribed by Article 15 (1) for summonses to the annual MGA.
(2) An amendment to these Statutes comes into force at the end of the day on which the MGA adopts the amendment unless the MGA adopts a later time for the coming into force of the amendment.
(3) An Associate Member who was an Associate Member immediately prior to the coming into force of the amendment of these Statutes adopted by the MGA on 11 February 2010 remains an Associate Member.
DISSOLUTION OF THE ASSOCIATION
The Association is dissolved upon decision at an MGA by at least two thirds of its Ordinary Members present and voting. Funds remaining after all outstanding liabilities have been met shall be transferred to the Council of Europe to be used for a purpose to be decided by the last MGA of the Association.
(Statutes as adopted on 30 June 1999,
amended on 11 February 2002,
on 2 March 2004,
on 3 March 2005,
on 11 February 2010,
and lastly on 27 January 2021)