ORDER OF THE GENERAL COURT (Third Chamber)

17 March 2016(*)

(Community trade mark — Legal entity governed by private law — No proof of existence in law — Failure to produce the lawyer’s authority to act — Article 177(4), (5) and (7) of the Rules of Procedure — Manifest inadmissibility)

Case T-672/15

Malta Cross Foundation International, Inc.,

applicant,

v

Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market (Trade Marks and Designs) (OHIM),

defendant,

the other party to the proceedings before the Board of Appeal of OHIM being

Malteser Hilfsdienst e.V,

ACTION brought against the decision of the Grand Board of Appeal of OHIM of 9 July 2015 (Case R 863/2011-G), relating to opposition proceedings between Malteser Hilfsdienst eV and Malta Cross Foundation International, Inc.,

THE GENERAL COURT (Third Chamber),

composed of S. Papasavvas, President, E. Bieliūnas (Rapporteur) and I.S. Forrester, Judges,

Registrar: E. Coulon,

makes the following

Order

 Facts and procedure

1        By an application registered at the Court Registry on 12 November 2015, an action was lodged on behalf of the applicant, Malta Cross Foundation International, Inc., by J.M. Pimenta, lawyer, to annul the decision of the Grand Board of Appeal of 9 July 2015 (Case R 863/2011-G), relating to opposition proceedings between Malteser Hilfsdienst eV and the applicant.

2        By letter dated 1 December 2015, the Court Registry acknowledged receipt of the application and asked for it to be put in order, in particular in respect of the following items:

–        production of evidence of the existence in law of a legal person governed by private law (extract from the register of companies, firms or associations or any other official document) (Annex 1(b) of the Practice Rules for the Implementation of the Rules of Procedure of the General Court);

–        production of authority to act given by the applicant (Annex 1(c) of the Practice Rules for the Implementation of the Rules of Procedure of the General Court).

3        The time-limit for putting the application in order expired on 16 December 2015.

4        By letter dated 16 December 2015, the applicant’s lawyer stated that he had no direct contact with the applicant, which is established in the United States of America, and that he was only in contact with the American lawyers acting on its behalf. Furthermore, he stated that that situation, together with the fact that the applicant was being restructured, had created enormous difficulties for him to contact the company and obtain the necessary documents. Consequently, the applicant’s lawyer asked for the time-limit for putting the application in order to be extended by 30 days.

5        By letter dated 17 December 2015, the Court Registry informed the applicant that the time-limit was extended until 15 January 2016. The applicant did not put the application in order within the time-limit.

6        By letter dated 20 January 2016, the Court Registry asked the applicant once more to put the application in order, by 5 February 2016 at the latest. The applicant did not put the application in order within the time-limit set.

 Law

7        Under Article 126 of its Rules of Procedure, where an action is manifestly inadmissible, the Court may, on a proposal from the Judge‑Rapporteur, at any time, decide to give a decision by reasoned order without taking further steps in the proceedings.

8        In the present case, the General Court decides to give a decision without taking further steps in the proceedings.

9        Under Article 177(7) of the Rules of Procedure, if an application does not comply with paragraphs 2 to 5, the Registrar is to prescribe a reasonable time-limit within which the applicant is to put the application in order. If the applicant fails to put the application in order within the time-limit prescribed, the Court is to decide whether the non-compliance with that procedural requirement renders the application formally inadmissible.

10      Under Article 177(4) of the Rules of Procedure, if an application is made by a legal person governed by private law, it is to be accompanied by recent proof of that person’s existence in law (extract from the register of companies, firms or associations or any other official document).

11      Furthermore, according to Article 177(5) of the Rules of Procedure, the application is to be accompanied by the documents referred to in Article 51(2) and (3). Article 51(3) of the Rules of Procedure provides that where the party represented by a lawyer is a legal person governed by private law, the lawyer must lodge at the Registry an authority to act given by that person.

12      In the present case, it should first be noted that the application did not, at the time it was lodged with the Court Registry on 12 November 2015, comply with the requirements of Article 177(4) and (5) of the Rules of Procedure.

13      Next, it should be noted that, several times, the Court Registry prescribed a time-limit within which the applicant was to put the application in order.

14      First, the Court Registry asked the applicant to put the application in order by 16 December 2015 at the latest. Then, and following a request from the applicant’s lawyer on 16 December 2015, the Court Registry extended the time-limit to put the application in order until 15 January 2016. Subsequently, and the application not having been put in order within the time-limit, the Court Registry prescribed a new time-limit to put the application in order, namely 5 February 2016.

15      It is true that the applicant’s lawyer, in his letter of 16 December 2015, invoked difficulties for collecting the documents which must be produced under Article 177(4) and (5) of the Rules of Procedure (see paragraph 4 above).

16      Nevertheless, the kind of difficulties invoked cannot justify the fact that the documents at issue were not produced within the time-limit prescribed by the Registry and extended twice. The applicant’s lawyer did not, however, get in contact with the Court Registry on the expiry of the time-limits prescribed, namely 15 January and 5 February 2016. Nor did the applicant’s lawyer reiterate the difficulties he had encountered.

17      Thus, the time-limit granted by the Court Registry to put the application in order was clearly appropriate in the light of, on the one hand, the difficulties invoked by the applicant’s lawyer and, on the other hand, the aim, referred to in recital 2 of the Rules of Procedure, of maintaining the Court’s ability to adjudicate within a reasonable time.

18      Finally, in addition, at the date of the adoption of the present order, the application has still not been put in order.

19      In those circumstances, the non-compliance with that procedural requirements laid down in Article 177(4) and (5) does not allow the Court to be certain that the applicant still existed at the time the application was lodged, nor that it really had the intention of bringing proceedings and that the lawyer, who claims to represent it, had actually been authorised to that end.

20      Accordingly, this action must be dismissed as manifestly inadmissible.

 Costs

21      As the present order has been made before service of the application on the other parties to the proceedings before the Board of Appeal of OHIM and before they could have incurred costs, it is sufficient to decide that the applicant must bear its own costs, pursuant to Article 133 of the Rules of Procedure.

On those grounds,

THE GENERAL COURT (Third Chamber),

hereby orders:

1.      The action is dismissed.

2.      Malta Cross Foundation International, Inc., is to bear its own costs.

Luxembourg, 17 March 2016.

E. Coulon

      S. Papasavvas

Registrar

      President