The Provisional Relief Judge of the district court of The Hague has declined jurisdiction in the second summary proceedings initiated against the European Patent Organization (EPO) by staff unions VEOB and SUEPO. He held that 'reasonable alternative means' in the sense of article 6 ECHR are available, that effectively protect the staff unions' rights. According to applicable law, this means that a claim of jurisdictional immunity by EPO must be honored.
The staff unions consider the verdict to be incomprehensible and will appeal it on all counts.
In his verdict, the Provisional Relief Judge ignores the fact that there is a difference between the legal remedies that (in principle) are available to individuals within an international organization, and the possibilities available to the staff unions themselves. This disctinction is crucial to the present case, as the case concerns the protection of the collective rights of the staff unions. Within the organization, there is no legal remedy available to the staff unions at all. For that very reason, in previous summary proceedings between the staff unions and the EPO, both the district court and the court of appeals in The Hague ruled that the EPO could not claim jurisdictional immunity. In his verdict of 5 August 2016, the Provisional Relief Judge ignored this jurisprudence.
The unions are represented by lawyers Liesbeth Zegveld, Christiaan Oberman (external) and Brechtje Vossenberg.
Read the verdict of 5 August 2016 here (only available in Dutch).