On April 1, 2021, a new Article 15a of the Rules of Procedure of the Boards of Appeal (RPBA) on videoconference oral hearings goes into effect.
Many parties and delegates have been unable to attend oral hearings in person due to the COVID-19 pandemic and related travel restrictions. To ensure prompt access to justice in these cases, the Boards of Appeal adopted the option of holding oral hearings by videoconference in May 2020. Oral hearings in over 380 appeal cases were held via videoconference between May 2020 and February 2021.
The method of conducting oral hearings before the Boards of Appeal through videoconference is now codified in new Article 15a of the RPBA.
Oral hearings were initially conducted via videoconference only if both parties agreed. Since January 1, 2021, they have also been performed in appropriate cases without the permission of the parties. This procedure has been confirmed by the Board of Appeal Committee (BOAC) and the Administrative Council in the latest Article 15a RPBA (see CA/5/21, points 5 and 7).