Judgment No. 3528
1. The EPO shall pay the complainant moral damages in the amount of 250 euros.
2. It shall pay him costs in the amount of 200 euros.
3. All other claims are dismissed.
The complainant challenges the EPO’s refusal to award him moral damages on account of the length of the internal appeal proceedings.
procedure before the tribunal; complaint allowed; moral injury; internal appeal
The Tribunal has consistently held that international organisations have a duty to ensure that internal appeals are conducted with due diligence and with due regard to the duty of care owed to staff members (see, in particular, Judgment 2522). While the time an appeal might reasonably take will usually depend on the specific circumstances of a given case, in this case the internal appeal was clearly irreceivable as it challenged a decision which was not final. As such, it could not be considered to be particularly complicated and certainly not enough to warrant internal appeal proceedings lasting almost five years. Such a delay is indeed egregious and the complainant is entitled to an award of moral damages. “The amount of compensation for unreasonable delay will ordinarily be influenced by at least two considerations. One is the length of the delay and the other is the effect of the delay. These considerations are interrelated as lengthy delay may have a greater effect. That latter consideration, the effect of the delay, will usually depend on, amongst other things, the subject matter of the appeal. Delay in an internal appeal concerning a matter of limited seriousness in its impact on the appellant would be likely to be less injurious to the appellant than delay in an appeal concerning an issue of fundamental importance and seriousness in its impact on the appellant. For example, an extensive delay in relation to an appeal concerning the dismissal of a staff member could have a profound impact on his or her circumstances. On the other hand, a delay of precisely the same period in relation to an appeal concerning a comparatively trifling issue may have limited or possibly even no impact on the circumstances of the staff member.” (See Judgment 3160, under 17.)
ILOAT Judgment(s): 2522, 3160
delay in internal procedure