While the work distribution of messing up and cleaning up the file is basically unchanged, this blogger sometimes misses the leather-wound signature folder. The electronic equivalent is a PDF-viewer software included in the EPOline client and today's assistants have to prepare neat PDF documents for online-filing rather than writs on handmade paper. The PDF-viewer opens automatically when clicking on the "sign" button in the software and the electronic signature can be applied only after closing the viewer again and confirming that the signature shall be applied indeed. As compared with the leather-wound signature folder, the PDF-viewer is much less classy. Besides of the PDF-documents, it shows a lot of unreadable XML code and leafing through a submission with multiple attachments may be fairly bothersome.
It is therefore tempting to circumvent the clumsy PDF-viewer, have the documents presented on paper (in a leather-wound signature folder if you like) and to trust that your secretary makes sure that what is electronically signed is identical to what you have checked on paper.
This is what the attorney did in the case underlying the decision T 1101/14 available here. In this case, the secretary had been instructed to upload the document with the grounds of appeal but failed to do so. The attorney had applied the electronic signature without remarking that the grounds of appeal were missing. In the request for re-establishment of rights, it was argued that these were two isolated mistakes in an otherwise secure system.
The Technical Board of Appeal did not find the attorney's error excusable. The catchword reads:
A representative who mistakenly signs a statement of grounds of appeal having most of its pages missing must, in the absence of special circumstances which could justify the representative's mistake, be considered not to have taken all due care required by the circumstances.
What can the attorneys learn? We have to leaf through the electronic documents in the PDF-viewer before applying the electronic signature and are not entitled to blame the secretary if something is missing.