At present, all oral proceedings held before examining divisions, the Legal Division and the Receiving Section are held by ViCo by default following similar decisions of the President in 2020 and 2011. Due to the additional complexities oral proceedings in opposition proceedings present, a pilot project was launched in April 2020 to test the feasibility of conducting oral proceedings in opposition proceedings by ViCo.

The pilot project was extended numerous times, with the current end date being 31 December 2022. A recent final report concluded that, following increasingly favourable user feedback, the pilot project was in a position to end and recommended that oral proceedings held before opposition divisions should be by ViCo as a default approach. The decision of 22 November 2022 therefore closes the pilot project and brings oral proceedings held before opposition divisions in line with other first instance proceedings.

Oral proceedings can still be held face-to-face at the EPO if requested by one of the parties to the proceedings and serious reasons against holding the oral proceedings by ViCo are provided, such as a visual impairment that prevents the oral proceedings being followed on-screen or where the proceedings require demonstration or inspection of an object with essential haptic features.

The decision enters into force on 01 January 2023 and applies to all oral proceedings before examining and opposition divisions, the Legal Division and the Receiving Section scheduled to take place on or after this date. Oral proceedings before the Boards of Appeal are governed separately by the Rules of Procedure of the Boards of Appeal and are not included in this decision.