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08.16.16

That Time When the Administrative Council Helped Battistelli Crush Oversight (Audit Committee) and What ILO Said About It a Month Ago

Posted in Courtroom, Europe, Patents at 10:28 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Battistelli and KongstadSummary: Things are becoming ever more troublesome at the EPO as the Administrative Council enjoys inaction from the International Labour Organization (ILO), in spite of its role in destroying much-needed oversight at the behest of Battistelli

IN our only article about the EPO yesterday we mentioned the RFPSS meeting. Things are eroding if not disintegrating at the EPO and it’s taking its toll on staff while no effective oversight exists anymore. Someone in IP Kat‘s comments remarked on the contents of yesterday’s material as follows:

On the subject of pensions, there is some interesting commentary from the CSC on the latest RFPSS meeting.

http://techrights.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/sc16129cp.pdf

“The Office thus unnecessarily lowers the probability of reaching our long-term objective for the return on investment, thereby deliberately creating a situation that could be used to trigger further major reforms.

The governance in terms of risk monitoring is still unclear through inadequate role clarity, while such governance deficiencies are recognised as often leading to under performance”.

If one were inclined to believe in conspiracies, the actions of the Office (including eliminating independent oversight of finances, and seemingly ensuring “underperformance” of the pension reserve fund) could all be interpreted as preparation for an attempt to sequester the approx. EUR7,000 million in the reserve fund.

In such a hypothetical conspiracy, the Office would “manufacture” excuses to cut / eliminate pension benefits to those who should be the beneficiaries of the RFPSS fund, only to then conduct a new study that miraculously discovers a massive surplus in that fund. The conspiracy would then conclude with the pension fund surplus being “liberated” by the Office.

Of course, this is all very far-fetched and so ought to easy to dismiss as nothing more than pure speculation. Indeed, a far more plausible explanation is that there is no plan for a cash-grab, just an attempt to deal with the pension liability issue that I have discussed before. Still, the effectively lawless behaviour of the Office in recent years (especially when it comes to matters of staff rights / benefits) does make one wonder…

Someone then responded to that as follows:

I have been entertaining similar suspicions since before Mr. Battistelli’s too office, when his immediate predecessor generously spouted expressions like “fit for the future”, “doing nothing is not an option” (in other words: TINA — but what is the problem in the first place?) and imposing the IFRS charade. I would however employ a much stronger word than “sequester”.

The questions are IMO: who would be the happy beneficiaries of that heist, how would the loot be split among them, and how would it be transferred out of the EPOrg while maintaining appearances?

As we stated yesterday, we have no accounting expertise here (not even in our IRC channels), so we need to rely on input from those who understand such matters and can interpret the financial reports of the EPO. The following remark bemoans Battistelli's political background, which basically makes him unfit (as per qualifications) for the post he has held for over half a decade. To quote:

Don’t forget that there is a French Presidential election campaign coming up in 2017.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_presidential_election,_2017

“Primaire à droite : les Amis de Sarkozy lancent un appel aux dons”

http://www.leparisien.fr/politique/primaire-a-droite-les-amis-de-sarkozy-lancent-un-appel-aux-dons-11-04-2016-5704991.php

This is why people who hold elected office for political parties should never be put in change of international organisations with large cash surpluses and no effective oversight.

Right now at the EPO there is virtually no accountability, as pointed out in another thread in relation to a subject we first covered here 2 years ago:

Perhaps we will never know. With the full knowledge and approval of the AC, one of BB’s first actions as president was to disband the only body (the Audit Committee) that could have provided transparency / independent oversight in connection with the EPO’s finances.

The ILOAT also placed its seal of approval on this dastardly act in Judgment 3698:

http://www.ilo.org/dyn/triblex/triblexmain.detail?p_lang=en&p_judgment_no=3698&p_session_id=122&p_language_code=EN

“The authority to establish or abolish the Audit Committee was vested in the Administrative Council alone, and these decisions did not infringe the complainant’s rights in any way, regardless of his role in the EPO.”

Judgment No. 3698 (originally in French) is dated a month ago (when many decisions came out, more than 80% of which rules against the EPO's management) and it relates to a decision we covered here last month. It’s Bernard Paye's complaint to ILO, which gave him a Pyrrhic victory many years too late. Here is the text of this decision with highlights in yellow. The complaint was made by “the principal author of the proposal to establish [the A]udit [C]ommittee,” based on the text:

Organisation internationale du Travail
Tribunal administratif

International Labour Organization
Administrative Tribunal

Registry’s translation,
the French text alone
being authoritative.

P.
v.
EPO

122nd Session
Judgment No. 3698

THE ADMINISTRATIVE TRIBUNAL ,

Considering the complaint filed by Mr B. Y. P. against the European Patent Organisation (EPO) on 15 March 2013 and corrected on 7 May 2013, the EPO’s reply of 5 March 2015, the complainant’s rejoinder of 24 April and the EPO’s surrejoinder of 31 July 2015;

Considering Article II, paragraph 5, of the Statute of the Tribunal; Having examined the written submissions and decided not to hold oral proceedings, for which neither party has applied;

Considering that the facts of the case may be summed up as follows: The complainant challenges the abolition of the Audit Committee of the EPO’s Administrative Council.

On 30 June 2011, following a proposal by the President of the European Patent Office, the Administrative Council adopted decision CA/D 4/11 abolishing the Audit Committee, one of its subsidiary bodies, with immediate effect. On 28 September 2011 the complainant, who was then Head of Internal Audit (Principal Directorate 0.6 of the European Patent Office), and Ms H., who chaired the Staff Committee, filed an internal appeal against this decision. They complained, inter alia, that the General Advisory Committee had not been consulted prior to the adoption of the challenged decision. In November 2012 Ms H. withdrew her appeal. Having heard the complainant, the Appeals Committee of the Administrative Council unanimously recommended on 11 December 2012 that his appeal be dismissed, considering, in particular, that the challenged decision had not been taken in breach of any “applicable legal provision”. By a letter of 20 December 2012, which constitutes the impugned decision, the complainant was notified that the Administrative Council had decided to dismiss his appeal.

In his complaint filed on 15 March 2013, the complainant asks the Tribunal to quash the impugned decision as well as decision CA/D 4/11 and to order the EPO to submit the initial proposal of the President of the Office to the General Advisory Committee. He also seeks compensation in the amount of 30,000 euros for the moral injury that he considers he has suffered and an award of costs.

The EPO submits that the complaint is irreceivable, in particular on the grounds that the complainant is impugning a general decision that does not adversely affect him. In the alternative, it asks the Tribunal to dismiss the complaint as unfounded.

CONSIDERATIONS

1. The Tribunal has jurisdiction under Article II, paragraph 5, of its Statute to hear complaints alleging “non-observance, in substance or in form, of the terms of appointment of officials and of provisions of the Staff Regulations”. In consequence, when “[t]he complainant does not allege the non-observance of any of the terms of his appointment or of any of the Staff Regulations applicable to him”, his complaint must be held to be irreceivable (see Judgment 2952, under 3).

2. The Tribunal observes that the complainant does not allege any violation of the terms of his appointment or of staff regulations that are applicable to him. His case does not relate to his administrative status but rather to the organisation of the EPO, his employer, for which he is plainly not responsible. The fact cited by the complainant that he was “the principal author of the proposal to establish [the A]udit [C]ommittee” that was subsequently abolished does not grant him any right to intervene in a decision to maintain that subsidiary body or not.

The authority to establish or abolish the Audit Committee was vested in the Administrative Council alone, and these decisions did not infringe the complainant’s rights in any way, regardless of his role in the EPO.

3. It ensues from the foregoing that the complaint, which the Tribunal is not competent to hear, is irreceivable and must be dismissed.

DECISION

For the above reasons,
The complaint is dismissed.

In witness of this judgment, adopted on 28 April 2016, Mr Claude Rouiller, President of the Tribunal, Mr Patrick Frydman, Judge, and Ms Fatoumata Diakité, Judge, sign below, as do I, Dražen Petrović, Registrar.

Delivered in public in Geneva on 6 July 2016.

(Signed)

CLAUDE ROUILLER
PATRICK FRYDMAN
FATOUMATA DIAKITÉ
DRAŽEN PETROVIĆ

The above relates to our previous post about complicity of the Administrative Council, in this particular case actively removing accountability or oversight from Battistelli, which the Council appears to be in bed with.

Citing another case, we have already shown how Battistelli worked against the European Patent Convention (EPC). How Battistelli can get away with all this isn’t something we can now defer to the Founding Fathers of the EPO anymore (most of them are deceased by now).

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