Despite the political chaos which has ensued following the inconclusive UK election result earlier this month, progress towards UK ratification of the Unified Patent Court Agreement (UPCA) seems to be back on track.
The UK is one of three countries (along with France and Germany) which must ratify the UPCA before the UPC can come into being. The final legislative step before the UK can do this is for legislation to be passed in both the UK-wide Parliament at Westminster and the devolved Scottish Parliament at Holyrood in order to implement the Protocol on Privileges and Immunities for the UPC.
Yesterday, a draft Order was laid before the Westminster Parliament. This is subject to the so-called “affirmative resolution” procedure, requiring scrutiny by both Houses of Parliament. Despite the “Brexit” vote, no serious opposition is expected to the passage of the legislation.
There is no news as yet on the corresponding draft legislation for Scotland, but this is likely to follow soon.
Parliamentary business at both Westminster and Holyrood will soon stop for the summer recess, with business resuming in September. Assuming that the legislation passes without trouble, the UK may therefore be in a position to ratify the UPCA in autumn or winter 2017.
The major source of delay in bringing the UPCA into effect is now likely to be the pending constitutional challenge in Germany, as reported here. There is much speculation, but little in the way of concrete detail, about the nature of this challenge and the timescale for a decision. However, a decision before the autumn seems unlikely and therefore – assuming that the challenge fails – a start date of March 2018, or possibly later, now seems to be the earliest realistic prospect.