05.23.21

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The EPO’s War on Justice and Assault on the Law — Part 17: The External Members: Evangelos Chatzikos and Richard Arnold

Posted in Courtroom, Europe, Law, Patents at 3:35 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Previously in this series:

Royal Courts of Justice, London, UK
Royal Courts of Justice London

Summary: A closer examination of Evangelos Chatzikos (Greece) and Richard Arnold (UK) as external members in case no. G 1/21, which starts later this week

Finally, we come to the “external members” of the panel dealing with case no. G 1/21:

Evangelos Chatzikos (Greece) and Richard Arnold (UK).

As we noted in an earlier part of this series, these “external members” are legally qualified members of the national courts or other quasi-judicial tribunals of the EPO‘s contracting states. They participate in EPO cases on an occasional basis but otherwise continue their normal judicial or quasi-judicial activities at the national level.

Their service at the EPO is regulated by the “Regulation on the appointment and conditions of employment of members of the Enlarged Board of Appeal”.

According to this regulation they are remunerated on a case-by-case basis and receive a flat fee of EUR 1000 per case [PDF]. If the external member acts as rapporteur, then the fee is increased to EUR 2500. They are also entitled to reimbursement of travelling expenses arising from official journeys. From the regulations:

Athens court
Regulation – Article 11, Paragraph 5, EPC

These guys are what Benoît Battistelli would have called “real judges”.

The Corsican despot never hid his disdain and contempt for the in-house judiciary at the EPO whom he considered to be his own personal “vassals”. On one occasion it is reported that he even told the members of the Boards of Appeal to their faces:

“The Corsican despot never hid his disdain and contempt for the in-house judiciary at the EPO whom he considered to be his own personal “vassals”.”“A mon opinion, vous n’êtes pas de juges”

(Translation: “In my opinion you are not judges.”)

Turning now to the “external members” in case G 1/21, the first thing that has to be said is that practically no information is publicly available about the Greek judge, Evangelos Chatzikos, apart from the fact that he is the President of the Court of First Instance in Athens.

Athens court
The Court of First Instance in Athens where Evangelos Chatzikos normally presides.

Chatzikos comes from a country whose legal system can hardly be said to enjoy a squeaky clean reputation.

“Chatzikos comes from a country whose legal system can hardly be said to enjoy a squeaky clean reputation.”Back in June 2019, the Greek Parliament downgraded bribery of public officials from a felony offence to a misdemeanour, thus introducing more lenient criminal sanctions for such crimes.

This move drew strong criticism from the Council of Europe’s anti-corruption body, the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO), and from the OECD.

Although there was a partial reintroduction of stronger criminal legislation in respect of bribery offences towards the end of 2019, GRECO concluded that more work was needed to render the criminal justice system fit for purpose if corruption was to be countered effectively.

More recently, the European Commission’s Rule of Law report for 2020 identified serious problems in Greece regarding the administration of justice, pluralism in the media, the fight against corruption, the activities of lobbies as well as the protection of whistle-blowers. According to the report, Greece’s justice system continues to face significant challenges as regards its quality and efficiency.

“Back in June 2019, the Greek Parliament downgraded bribery of public officials from a felony offence to a misdemeanour, thus introducing more lenient criminal sanctions for such crimes.”None of this should be misinterpreted as an attempt to cast aspersions on the personal integrity of Mr Chatzikos. In the absence of any evidence to the contrary he is, in all probability, every bit as sound as the next man.

However, what is of relevance here is that Mr Chatzikos holds a relatively senior judicial position in a country whose legal system suffers from a predominantly negative image. This is not a matter of “prejudice” but is rather based on the independent assessments of intergovernmental bodies such as the Council of Europe and the European Commission.

Common sense tells us that you don’t rise to occupy such a senior judicial position in any jurisdiction without knowing how to “play the game” according to the local rules.

“Common sense tells us that you don’t rise to occupy such a senior judicial position in any jurisdiction without knowing how to “play the game” according to the local rules.”Trying to put things as diplomatically as possible, the political environment in contemporary Greece combined with the lack of any publicly available information about Mr Chatzikos himself, suggests that he is unlikely to be too concerned about keeping the proceedings in case no. G1/21 on the “straight and narrow”.

The other external member, Richard “Dickie” Arnold (UK) comes from a legal tradition that has a somewhat more positive reputation for procedural correctness and adherence to the rule of law.

Lord Justice Arnold – to give him his official title – is quite a well-known UK legal figure with a fairly prominent public profile.

He was appointed a Lord Justice of the Appeal Court in October 2019.

Richard Arnold
Richard Arnold was appointed a Lord Justice of the UK Court of Appeal in October 2019.

It’s well know that Battistelli had a certain regard for British legal eagles – in particular he was fond of using QCs from 39 Essex Chambers to intimidate the Enlarged Board and stitch up SUEPO officials.

“Lord Justice Arnold – to give him his official title – is quite a well-known UK legal figure with a fairly prominent public profile.”However, it’s not certain that “Dickie” Arnold is someone who would have met with unconditional approval from the Corsican despot.

Back in 2016, together with a large group of other judicial colleagues in the UK, Arnold was involved in a legal complaint against the introduction of new judicial pension system that required employee contributions.

This was a “mass appeal” led by six high court judges – including Arnold who was 55 at the time – which was joined by 204 Crown Court judges, district judges, sheriffs and tribunal judges.

“This was a “mass appeal” led by six high court judges – including Arnold who was 55 at the time – which was joined by 204 Crown Court judges, district judges, sheriffs and tribunal judges.”The six High Court judges appointed at a “relatively early age” took their action against the Ministry of Justice in connection with the pension changes which they claimed were discriminatory and less favourable in terms of benefits.

In 2017 it was reported that the aggrieved UK judges had won their claims against the Ministry of Justice in an employment tribunal ruling, which was estimated to leave the UK government facing costs of up to £ 118m if the lost benefits were to be fully restored.

Lawsuits of this kind are precisely the kind of “disloyal” activity that Battistelli deprecated when “his” staff, both examiners and members of the Boards of Appeal, brought their complaints to the ILOAT.

“It is not ILOAT that manages the Office. It is childish, childish to write to judges in Geneva.”, he retorted, raising his voice menacingly.

Battistelli is unlikely to have been impressed by Arnold’s participation in such a “childish” legal action against his employer.

Liz Truss
Justice Arnold was lucky that Chancellor Liz Truss didn’t have the totalitarian powers of Battistelli.

“Dickie” Arnold and his colleagues were lucky that their boss, Chancellor Liz Truss, didn’t have the totalitarian powers of an EPOnian President at her disposal. Otherwise they might have ended up in the Tower of London rather than enjoying the luxury of “due process”.

“Battistelli is unlikely to have been impressed by Arnold’s participation in such a “childish” legal action against his employer.”Returning now to G 1/21, it has to be admitted that, in the final analysis, the external members of the panel are “dark horses” whose actions cannot be reliably predicted.

In particular, it’s impossible to say how they are likely to react – if at all – to the concerns which have been publicly expressed about the suspected partiality of the Chairman and the other internal members of the panel.

“In particular, it’s impossible to say how they are likely to react – if at all – to the concerns which have been publicly expressed about the suspected partiality of the Chairman and the other internal members of the panel.”That concludes our introduction to the “external members”.

Before presenting some concluding observations on the current state of play in case no. G 1/21, we will make a short diversion to look at Carl Josefsson’s well-oiled PR machine which is likely to become increasingly active in the run-up to the hearing scheduled to take place on 28 May.

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