Report of the By-Laws Committee (BLC)

P.Moutard (FR), Chair

1. BLC meetings and the topics discussed during these meetings

Three BLC meetings took place on 22 February, 31 March 31 and 6 July, 2017. Depending on the topics, the Treasurer of the epi and members of the Reporting Group (RG) were invited to discuss several proposals during the first and the second meetings. Phone conferences were also held with the Chair of PCC, resp. with the Chair of the Disciplinary Committee during the second meeting, resp. the third meeting.

Following topics were discussed:

  • amendments to R.154 EPC and to internal regulations of the epi regarding the payment of the membership fee;
  • a new proposal (from the secretary of the epi-Finances Committee) concerning the double signature;
  • the proposal relating to Internet voting for Council to take decisions outside Council Meetings;
  • amendments proposed for the Code of Conduct;
  • Proposals from the Reporting Group concerning "liaison members", the definition of the rights and duties of the Council Members (Art. 58.1 By-Laws (BL)), the Terms of Reference of the Committees and the Art.18 of the BL.
  • Amendment of epi 4.2.4 (Resolution regarding non-attendance at oral proceedings)
  • Rules of exclusion to avoid possible conflicts of interest of Board members participating to some committees.

We make here below a short presentation of the state of these different topics.

2. Rule 154 EPC and amendments to epi internal regulations

The epi internal regulations (epi 3.1.1, 4.2.1, 4.3.2 - 4.3.4, 5.1.1 - 5.1.5 and 5.2.2) were revised last year but a new amendment to Rule 154 EPC was recently proposed (due to internal changes in the Legal Division of the EPO) which required a further check of all these regulations.

The discussions, which took place together with the Treasurer, were based on the versions of these regulations that had been previously prepared by the Legal Advisor and circulated among all members of the BLC.

It was also proposed to amend the duties of the Treasurer according to Art.16.4 BL to include the request to the EPO for a deletion from the list of professional representatives in case of non-payment of the annual subscription.

A whole set of rules was thus ready for adoption - and was adopted - by the Council of the epi (at C 82) and, for some of them, by the Administrative Council of the EPO.

3. New proposal concerning the double signature.

The discussions in view of a regulation for a double signature started again with the proposal of the Secretary of the epi-Finances Committee, Mr Tim POWELL. Said proposal included 2 parts: one for contracts and one for payments.

Several other proposals were discussed during the BLC meeting of February 22.

The conclusion of the discussions was a proposal based on a double internal check that does not alter the competences given by the BL (see in particular Art.15 and 16, resp. for the Secretary General and the Treasurer); in other words the proposed regulation will not be included in the BL but, if approved by Council, will be part of the Collection of Decisions.

Further, the proposal does not include any provision concerning payment orders, because, according to the Treasurer, the practice of the bookkeeping was already including a double check (The Treasurer will provide a short description of the procedure in the bookkeeping).

4. Internet voting

No vote on the "Internet voting" proposal was taken during the C 81 (Berlin) in order to give the Council representatives more time to study it and make comments.

In relation to this topic several comments were posted on the epi Forum in December and January.

The RG and the BLC were of the opinion that, in view of these comments, no amendment of the proposal presented in Berlin was needed.

To make the "Internet voting" consistent, it was further proposed to include in the BL a new duty for the substitutes (Art. 4.2 BL) to vote during any Internet voting.

All proposed rules were adopted by the Council of the epi (at C 82).

As already mentioned, it will probably be necessary to elaborate further regulations and amendments of the BL to solve the problems that will be met by the Internet voting procedure, but these problems cannot be foreseen now.

5. Amendments proposed for the Code of Conduct (CoC).

The Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) revised the epi CoC.

The BLC discussed the proposal of the PCC and proposed several amendments.

In particular, it is preferable not to amend Article 2.b ("Advertisements"), which the Legal Advisor has confirmed, because the wording of this article had been adopted a long time ago further to a litigation between the epi and the European commission.

Further, the amendments proposed for the CoC include references to the activities before the UPC. The BLC has expressed doubts as to the possibility for the epi to sanction the epi members not complying with any rule or Code of Conduct of the UPC. The CoC of the epi must remain within the terms of the Disciplinary Regulation (see Art. 9(2) of the Founding Regulation) which is adopted by the Administrative Council of the EPO. The Code of Conduct before the UPC will be adopted by a different body, namely the Administrative Committee of the UPC (R. 291 (2) of the UPC Rule of Procedure). Further discussions on this topic should be conducted with the Administrative Council of the EPO and with the Preparatory Committee of the UPC (or the UPC Administrative Committee) before considering the introduction of any reference to the UPC in the epi CoC because it is essential for the epi members to know which body is competent (or not) to sanction them for their future activities before the UPC.

6. Further proposals from the RG: Liaison members, rights and duties of the Council Members, Article 18 of the By-Laws, Terms of Reference of committees.

6.1. Liaison members.

This idea of this proposal is to have a contact person of each constituency that liaises between the constituency and the Board or the committees; for example, this contact person could collect the opinion of his/her own constituency in order to get a preliminary view for the Board. The BLC revised the wording of the proposal and agreed with the RG on a final text. This regulation was adopted by the Council of the epi (C 82) and will be included in the Collection of Decisions.

6.2. Rights and duties of the Council Members

This proposal concerned an amendment of article 58.1 of the By-Laws by including a reference to the interests of the epi but also of the constituency of each Council Member. However each Council Member remains independent and will still cast his/her vote according to his/her own conscience.

The epi Council has approved this proposal (C82).

6.3. Article 18 BL

This proposal concerned an amendment of article 18 of the By-Laws which is complex and needs to be reworded at least for clarity's sake.

Furthermore definitions of the duties of the Chair of any committee (but not the Disciplinary Committee) and of the committee members were introduced.

One problem was to identify which parts of this article are applicable to the Disciplinary Committee and which parts are not. This problem was solved during a phone conference with the Chair of the Disciplinary Committee.

The wording of this article was discussed during the 82nd Council meeting, and will be further amended in order to be presented to the epi Council Meeting in Warsaw (C83).

6.4. Terms of Reference (ToR) of the Committees

The ToR of several committees were amended further to various proposals by the RG which were adopted by the Council during the 82nd Council Meeting.

Accordingly the BLC is currently adapting the ToR of these committees.

7. Amendment of epi 4.2.4 (Resolution regarding non-attendance at oral proceedings)

This resolution is amended so as to encompass all oral proceedings, including before any EPO first instance.

This resolution was adopted by the epi Council at the C82 meeting and will be included in the Collection of Decisions.

8. Rules of exclusion to avoid possible conflicts of interest of Board Members participating to some committees.

There are ongoing discussions to establish rules in order to avoid possible conflicts of interest of Board members participating to some committees.