A late-stage U-turn may not provide claimants with as much control over language of proceedings as it initially appears

The Unified Patent Court (UPC) recently published an official list of nominated languages of each local division, with those in France, Germany and Italy having not opted to offer English as an acceptable language. However, France and Germany have made a late U-turn on the day of the UPC's launch to include English as an acceptable language.

Official list update

The of nominated languages is now as follows:


* Nomination made under Rule 14.2(c) UPC Rules of Procedure

However, the designation of English by these divisions has been made subject to Rule 14.2(c) of the Rules of Procedure, which allows the judge-rapporteur to order, in the interests of the panel of judges, that the oral proceedings and any orders or judgments are given in French and German respectively, with any orders or judgments being accompanied by an official English translation. The UPC has also clarified that Belgium's inclusion of English in its list of acceptable languages was also made on that basis.

Osborne Clarke comment

France and Germany's inclusion of English as an official language of proceedings in their local divisions marks a last-minute change of direction, which is perhaps in response to concerns over whether the lack of English as an option would dampen their popularity. As things stand, the Italian local division is now the only one that does not offer English as an acceptable language of proceedings.

However, the designation under Rule 14.2(c) of the Rules of Procedure empowers the judge-rapporteur to override the selection of English, if it is in the interests of the panel of judges and, therefore, perhaps gives less control to users of those divisions than it may initially appear. It remains to be seen how frequently this power will be exercised in practice – if used on a regular basis, this could still impact the popularity of these divisions.