In an earlier update we announced that Ireland is to establish a local division of the Unified Patent Court (UPC), subject to Ireland ratifying the International Agreement on a UPC by way of referendum. The International Agreement was signed by 25 EU Member States on 19 February 2013 and needs to be ratified by at least 13 states, including France, Germany and the United Kingdom to enter into force. There are currently only seven states that have ratified the Agreement with the Preparatory Committee of the UPC (which will remain in operation until the UPC is established) noting that many Member States hope to ratify in 2015.
However, following recent commentary from the current Irish government an Irish referendum is not likely to be before mid-2016, with 2017 looking more realistic. The comments made by Minister James Reilly were made in the context of a different legislative Bill being passed through Dail Eireann and he confirmed that no referendum would take place in respect of that legislation, or any other, before the election of a new government. The decision as to when this referendum will take place rests with the next Irish government. The current government must be dissolved no later than 3 April 2016.