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07.15.18

Cautionary Tale: ILO Administrative Tribunal Cases (Appeals) ‘Intercepted’ Under António Campinos

Posted in Europe, Law, Patents at 11:03 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

UIMP event and FTI Consulting

Summary: The ILO Administrative Tribunal (ILO-AT) is advertised by the EPO‘s management as access to justice, but it’s still being undermined quite severely to the detriment of aggrieved staff

THE NEW President of the EPO, António Campinos, is still not complying with ILO-AT judgments. It’s problematic for a lot of reasons and sources of ours already give up on him (or concede hope that he will fix things that matter). Actions are needed; it has already been half a month.

Earlier this year we saw links to some tweets of somebody called Anette Koch, who came out in Twitter, revealing grievances she had experienced at the EPO. Just before the weekend we saw more links (or retweets) from EPO-connected accounts to documents that we decided to publish yesterday. These documents, or rather a two-page letter (E-mail/s), confirmed our suspicions that when it comes to justice Campinos and Battistelli might be indistinguishable.

“These documents, or rather a two-page letter (E-mail/s), confirmed our suspicions that when it comes to justice Campinos and Battistelli might be indistinguishable.”So we attempted to contact the person in question. It wasn’t hard because the E-mail appeared in the above documents. We now have a better understanding of what’s going on and would like to share what the EPO under Campinos is doing.

“The EPO attempts to jeopardize three of my cases with the Tribunal by arbitrarily re-starting them in internal appeal and inviting me for comments,” Koch responded to my E-mail, “[so] of course I will comment to the Tribunal only. Please note that the Tribunal did not refer them back to the EPO, i.e. the EPO acts on its own initiative.”

Remittance before judgments can even be reached? That’s odd. How many more people might this be done to? It wouldn’t be so shocking if the EPO, under instructions from high-level management (maybe Campinos himself or HR itself), is just mass-mailing this to a lot of complainants.

“I am sick and tired of this type of bullying,” Koch told me, “I have pain in my stomach and in my right wrist currently, so I have to be short.”

“Remittance before judgments can even be reached?”It doesn’t look as though the EPO changes in any concrete way under Campinos. I gave him a chance, I really did; I wanted to think that things were going to improve at least in the sense that the social climate might change. But they’re still panicking. Staff still suffers. SUEPO representatives, victims of union-busting efforts, are still in limbo.

It’s worth noting that the document (or documents, a few E-mails) was produced well after Campinos had taken over and, if so and considering the circumstances, who is most culpable (or to blame) here? The legal department, HR, or someone else?

Campinos has been President since the first of July. The documents (E-mails) are dated 9th of July and 10th of July, respectively. While the decision mentioned could still have been taken by Mr. Battistelli, the new President should normally have been informed. He is welcome to stop this.

“While the decision mentioned could still have been taken by Mr Battistelli, the new President should normally have been informed. He is welcome to stop this.”The crucial legal points are: (i) a lower judicial instance cannot re-start a case under appeal on its own initiative (notwithstanding the non-judicial character of the EPO which is a party to these cases), (ii) in the E-mails the IAC clearly threatens to adopt the current procedural rules (it points to them), i.e. all its members can be nominated by the President only or determined by lots. To adopt the current rules contravenes the principle of non-retroactivity, obliging the EPO to follow the Service Regulations at the time of filing internal appeals at which part of IAC members were still to be nominated by the CSC (where’s the IAC’s “independence” otherwise?).

“The effect of such E-mails on my health is significant,” Koch told me, “i.e. pain in my stomach, neck, wrist and elbow.”

It’s bad enough that the EPO’s poor facilities have already caused many disabilities at the EPO (we wrote about it before). It’s even worse that those people get ‘discarded’ once the EPO ‘breaks’ them and these people are then denied access to justice. What kind of employer is this? Persistent rumours suggest that the EPO isn’t even hiring anymore; it only pretends to, i.e. it’s wasting people’s time and making them nervous without any prospects of a job.

“This further reaffirms SUEPO’s allegation (from a couple of weeks back) that ILO-AT “remains very much an employer’s court” (not employees’) because it’s often doing whatever EPO management wants it to do.”Remarking on the above, Koch replied to our query by asserting that “the main aim of all this is of course to prevent treatment of my cases in substance by the Tribunal, by having them referred back to the IAC, i.e by delay. This would be another catastrophe, and I have to do everything I still can to prevent this [...] it’s about the EPO’s and partly the ILOAT’s way of proceeding, not about me in person [...] Yet it is new (in my cases) and utterly absurd that the IAC simply restarts cases in internal appeal on its own motion, even without the Tribunal referring them back to the IAC (at least SUEPO did not report such cases yet).”

This further reaffirms SUEPO’s allegation (from a couple of weeks back) that ILO-AT “remains very much an employer’s court” (not employees’) because it’s often doing whatever EPO management wants it to do. It doesn’t really feel impartial and decisions get delayed at the request of the EPO.

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