The draft Statutory Instrument, the Order on Privileges and Immunities, which needs to be passed before UK ratification of the Unified Patents Court (UPC) can take place, was laid before Parliament on 26 June 2017.
The Order will enable the UK to ratify not only the UPC Agreement but also the Protocol on Privileges and Immunities of the UPC, which confers legal status on the Unified Patent Court and privileges and immunities on the Court, its judges and staff. The Order is an "affirmative order", which means that it requires a vote in both Houses of Parliament before it can pass. It also requires Privy Council approval. A separate order is expected to be laid before the Scottish Parliament in due course. Once the orders have been passed in Westminster and Holyrood, UK ratification can take place.
The 40 day period required for the legislative process will leapfrog the summer recess, with UK ratification expected to happen in late October. This would leave Germany as the only other country required to ratify in order for the UPC to open for business.
German ratification has been delayed by a private challenge to the UPC system before the German Constitutional Court. The German Court is currently assessing the admissibility of the challenge. If the challenge is inadmissible this should not significantly delay German ratification. If the challenge is admissible the procedure to a decision on merits could take about a year, although the Constitutional Court is aware of the timing issues and will try to accelerate the procedure.
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