ILO is a specialized agency of the United Nations
ILO-en-strap
Site Map | Contact français
> Home > Triblex: case-law database > By thesaurus keyword > discretion

Judgment No. 4795

Decision

1. The decision of the President of the Boards of Appeal of the EPO dated 19 December 2019 is set aside, as is the complainant’s performance evaluation report for 2018.
2. The EPO shall draw up a new performance evaluation report for 2018, as indicated in consideration 14 of the judgment.
3. The Organisation shall pay the complainant moral damages in the amount of 2,000 euros.
4. All other claims are dismissed.

Summary

The complainant challenges his performance evaluation report for 2018.

Judgment keywords

Keywords

complaint allowed; performance report; rating

Consideration 2

Extract:

The complainant has requested oral proceedings. However, in view of the ample and sufficiently clear written submissions and evidence produced by the parties, the Tribunal considers that it is fully informed about the case and will not, therefore, grant this request.

Keywords

oral proceedings

Consideration 3

Extract:

[I]t must be noted from the outset that, although the complainant asks for the Communiqué to be set aside, the claim he presents to that end is irreceivable. Under the Tribunal’s settled case law, a general decision intended to serve as a basis for individual decisions – as is the case of the Communiqué at issue – cannot be impugned, save in exceptional cases, and its lawfulness may only be contested in the context of a challenge to the individual decisions that are taken on its basis (see, for example, Judgments 4734, consideration 4, 4572, consideration 3, 4278, consideration 2, 3736, consideration 3, and 3628, consideration 4).
Under that same case law, the complainant may, however, challenge the lawfulness of the aforementioned Communiqué 2/17 – as indeed he has done – in support of his claims for the impugned decision and the disputed performance evaluation report, which implement the guidelines contained in the Communiqué, to be set aside.

Reference(s)

ILOAT Judgment(s): 3628, 3736, 4278, 4572, 4734

Keywords

claim; general decision; individual decision; performance report

Consideration 4

Extract:

the complainant argues, in the first place, that the procedure leading to the adoption of Communiqué 2/17 was flawed because it was not submitted to the General Consultative Committee (GCC) [for consultation].
[...]
Article 1(4) of the Service Regulations provides that the regulations are to apply to members of the Boards of Appeal “in so far as they are not prejudicial to their independence”. The appraisal of members of those Boards is one of the particular problems associated with the guarantees of independence from which those members benefit. In addition, relating more generally to measures that specifically deal with the conditions of employment of members of the Boards of Appeal, it is apparent from the file [...] that, in view of this requirement for independence, it was increasingly seen as inappropriate for such measures to be subject to consultation with the GCC, especially given that that body is chaired by the President of the Office and half of its members are appointed by him. As a consequence, it became the practice, for measures of this type, to replace consultation with the GCC by consultation with the Presidium of the Boards of Appeal, an autonomous authority provided for in Rule 12b of the Implementing Regulations to the Convention, whose role, under paragraph 3 of that rule, includes “advis[ing] the President of the Boards of Appeal on matters concerning the functioning of the Boards of Appeal Unit in general” [...]. This practice was eventually codified in 2019 by the insertion of paragraph 8 into Article 38 of the Service Regulations, which expressly provides for consultation with the Presidium in such a situation rather than with the GCC.
This is the procedure that was followed for the drafting of Communiqué 2/17. Admittedly, the new version of Article 38 was not in force at that time. However, as just explained, even before the amendment was made to the Service Regulations, a practice existed to that effect and, contrary to what the complainant maintains, was already in use at the time when the Communiqué was issued, as evidenced by examples supplied by the EPO of previous consultations on other matters. Furthermore, although it is well-established case law that a practice cannot become legally binding where it contravenes rules already in force (see, for example, Judgments 4555, consideration 11, and 4026, consideration 6), the Tribunal considers that, in view of the aforementioned wording of Article 1(4) of the Service Regulations, the practice in question cannot be regarded as contravening the applicable rules. The lack of consultation with the GCC did not, therefore, constitute an irregularity.

Reference(s)

ILOAT Judgment(s): 4026, 4555

Keywords

independence; practice; rating; consultation; interpretation of rules

Consideration 5

Extract:

[T]he complainant submits that Communiqué 2/17 is unlawful because Rule 12d of the Implementing Regulations to the European Patent Convention, concerning the appointment and re-appointment of the members of the Boards of Appeal, which is one of the provisions forming the basis for the Communiqué, was itself adopted under a flawed procedure. He considers that, to the extent that Rule 12d governs the way in which the performance of the members of the Boards is evaluated, it should have been submitted for an opinion to the Committee on Patent Law which was created by a decision of the Administrative Council (CA/D 3/94) [...].
Under paragraph 5 of Decision CA/D 3/94, “[t]he Committee [on Patent Law] shall advise the Administrative Council” on various questions connected with its object [...]
[I]t is clear from the aforementioned provisions, and also from other provisions of paragraphs 5 and 6 of Decision CA/D 3/94, that consulting the Committee on matters falling within the scope of its competence is merely an option for the Administrative Council and not a mandatory formality.

Keywords

consultation; interpretation of rules

Consideration 7

Extract:

[T]he Tribunal has already ruled, in relation to the objection procedure applicable to appraisals of other permanent employees of the Office, which shares these same features mutatis mutandis, that the fact that no staff representatives were included on the Appraisals Committee competent to review the appraisal reports of those other employees did not mean that the Committee’s composition was inadequate, and the fact that the Committee’s mandate was confined to determining whether such reports were arbitrary or discriminatory was legally admissible (see Judgments 4637, considerations 11 and 13, and 4257, consideration 13).

Reference(s)

ILOAT Judgment(s): 4257, 4637

Keywords

advisory body; performance report; rating; staff representative

Consideration 7

Extract:

[A]lthough the complainant submits that the time limits prescribed by [...] Communiqué [2/17] for submitting comments on the opinion issued by the chairman of the Board and for lodging an objection to the performance evaluation report are unreasonably short, that is ten days in each case, the Tribunal considers that, while the periods are indeed brief, they are not so to a degree that would breach the principles of the right to effective appeal and the right to due process.

Keywords

right of appeal; time limit; performance report; rating

Considerations 9-10

Extract:

As the Tribunal has repeatedly held in its case law, assessment of anemployee’s merits during a specified period involves a value judgement; for this reason, the Tribunal must recognise the discretionary authority of the bodies responsible for conducting such an assessment. Of course, it must ascertain whether the ratings given to the employee have been determined in full conformity with the rules, but it cannot substitute its own opinion for the assessment made by these bodies of the qualities, performance and conduct of the person concerned. The Tribunal will therefore intervene only if the staff report was drawn up without authority or in breach of a rule of form or procedure, if it was based on an error of law or fact, if a material fact was overlooked, if a plainly wrong conclusion was drawn from the facts, or if there was abuse of authority (see, for example, Judgments 4564, consideration 3, 4267, consideration 4, 3692, consideration 8, 3228, consideration 3, and 3062, consideration 3).
Among the various pleas entered by the complainant [...], there is one that is decisive for the outcome of this dispute, [...] since it relates to a material fact that was allegedly overlooked. This is the plea that the President of the Boards of Appeal refused to take account of the fact that the 50 per cent exemption from duties granted to the complainant as a full member of the CSC, pursuant to Article 3(2) of Circular No. 356 concerning the resources and facilities to be granted to the Staff Committee, was insufficient in the light of actual needs observed.

Reference(s)

ILOAT Judgment(s): 3062, 3228, 3692, 4267, 4564

Keywords

performance report; rating; staff representative; judicial review; discretion

Consideration 14

Extract:

The complainant asks that he be awarded the “average rating of ‘fulfils the requirements’” [...].
It is not for the Tribunal, whose role is not to supplant the administrative bodies responsible for staff appraisals within an international organisation, to determine the rating to be given to an employee in a performance evaluation report (see, for example, Judgments 4564, consideration 2, and 4258, considerations 2 and 3).

Reference(s)

ILOAT Judgment(s): 4258, 4564

Keywords

performance report; rating; role of the tribunal

Consideration 15

Extract:

[T]his evaluation contained some disparaging comments about the complainant, [...] which were liable to harm his professional reputation and clearly offended him. Those comments therefore caused him moral injury.

Keywords

moral injury; performance report



 
Last updated: 07.03.2024 ^ top