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Judgment No. 2906

Decision

1. The EPO shall pay the complainant 3,000 euros as compensation for moral injury.
2. It shall also pay him costs in the amount of 500 euros.
3. All other claims are dismissed.

Consideration 7

Extract:

Following his promotion to grade A5, the complainant was informed that his promotion to that grade was due to a clerical error and that the Administration's intention was to promote him to grade A4(2). Thus, his promotion to grade A5 was reversed. He challenged that decision but the President decided to maintain it. The Tribunal found that his promotion to grade A5 stemmed from a purely factual error and not from the Administration's genuine intention and that it could therefore be reversed. It nevertheless awarded him compensation for moral injury.
"The nub of this case is whether the President could lawfully reverse the decision [...] to promote the complainant to grade A5 [...]. Since the Service Regulations do not contain any specific provisions governing the conditions for the reversal or revocation of administrative decisions, this question can be settled only by referring to the general principles of law applied by the Tribunal."

Keywords

decision; individual decision; staff regulations and rules; no provision; promotion; intention of parties; mistake of fact

Consideration 8

Extract:

"In accordance with these principles, an individual decision affecting an official becomes binding on the organisation which has taken it and thus creates rights for the person concerned as soon as it has been notified to him or her in the manner prescribed by the applicable rules (see, for example, Judgments 2112, under 7(a), and 2201, under 4). As a general rule, such a decision may therefore be reversed only if two conditions are satisfied: the decision must be unlawful and it must not yet have become final (see Judgments 994, under 14, or 1006, under 2). Furthermore, where an individual decision does not create rights, provided that the principle of good faith is respected, it may be reversed at any time (see Judgment 587, under 4)."

Reference(s)

ILOAT Judgment(s): 587, 994, 1006, 2112, 2201

Keywords

decision; individual decision; applicable law; good faith; promotion; binding character; condition; right

Consideration 11

Extract:

"Since the decision to promote the complainant to grade A5 stemmed from a clerical error, i.e. a purely factual error, and not from a genuine intention of its author, the Tribunal considers that it did not create rights for the person concerned and that it could therefore be subsequently reversed.
Indeed, one of the essential requirements of any administrative decision is that it should be consistent with its author's intention. Consequently, where that is not the case, it is important that the impact of the decision should be limited as much as possible, even though its existence cannot be denied. Similar considerations led the Tribunal to set aside the application of a decision resting on a purely factual error in an earlier case concerning the repayment of an indemnity which had been paid in error (see Judgment 1111, under 5). Although the instant case concerns a somewhat different issue, it is likewise appropriate to consider that the decision in question, which stems from a factual error, could not create any rights and that the competent authority was therefore entitled to reverse it at any time. Indeed, the opposite would be liable to conflict not only with the interests of the organisation concerned but also with the principle of equal treatment of officials, insofar as it could, in some extreme cases, result in preposterous individual decisions reached by pure oversight becoming final."

Reference(s)

ILOAT Judgment(s): 1111

Keywords

decision; individual decision; equal treatment; promotion; intention of parties; organisation's interest; mistake of fact; right

Consideration 12

Extract:

"Although in theory the President of the Office may grant promotions at his or her discretion, the Tribunal's case law has it that, in view of the crucial role assigned to the Promotion Board in the procedure laid down in Article 49 of the Service Regulations and various subsequent guidelines, the President may promote someone only on the Board's recommendation (see Judgments 1600, under 10, and 1968, under 16 and 17). Thus, even if it is assumed that the President of the Office had the authority to appoint an official to grade A5, not by the usual procedures but in the context of the annual promotion exercise, such a promotion would have been lawful only if it rested on a prior recommendation to that effect from the Board."

Reference(s)

Organization rules reference: Article 49 of the Service Regulations for Permanent Employees of the European Patent Office
ILOAT Judgment(s): 1600, 1968

Keywords

decision; individual decision; recommendation; promotion; promotion board; condition

Consideration 13

Extract:

"Although [...] the decision [to promote the complaintant to grade A5] did not create any rights because it stemmed from a factual error, it could be reversed only on certain conditions dictated by the principle of good faith. This principle requires, firstly, that the power to reverse a decision resting on a factual error must be exercised as soon as the competent authority notices the error in question and not at a later date chosen at its own convenience. Secondly, this principle requires that if the person concerned by a decision resting on a factual error has not contributed to this error, he or she must not suffer any unfavourable consequences from the application of the decision in question during the period before it was reversed. In particular, it is thus essential that any remuneration received by the official concerned on the basis of this decision should not give rise to reimbursement or any other form of restitution."

Keywords

decision; individual decision; good faith; staff member's interest; promotion; mistake of fact; condition; consequence; right

Consideration 16

Extract:

"Even though [...] the Organisation was entitled to reverse the decision wrongly promoting the complainant to grade A5, the factual error on which its initial decision rested was nonetheless negligent. By submitting a draft decision whose content had not been properly checked for signature by the President, the services of the Organisation displayed gross negligence, which is even less excusable in view of the fact that individual decisions on promotion are of a particularly sensitive nature. The complainant obviously had cause to be extremely disappointed because, having been notified of this decision, he was then told that it had been reversed and that he had been promoted simply to grade A(2). By proceeding in this manner the EPO breached the duty which the Tribunal's case law establishes for every international organisation not to cause its staff unnecessary injury (see, for example, Judgments 1526, under 3, or 2007, under 11)."

Reference(s)

ILOAT Judgment(s): 1526, 2007

Keywords

decision; individual decision; injury; negligence; organisation's duties; staff member's interest; promotion; mistake of fact

Consideration 17

Extract:

"The various paths to promotion within an international organisation such as the EPO are regulated by complex rules with which the staff cannot be assumed to be fully conversant and it is plainly up to the Organisation to ensure that the decisions which it takes in this respect are lawful."

Keywords

procedure; organisation; organisation's duties; staff regulations and rules; promotion; staff member's duties



 
Last updated: 24.08.2017 ^ top