With the UK Parliament sitting again, following the drama of the June 2017 General Election, the Government is now continuing with the national legislative steps that need to be completed before the UK can ratify the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court (UPC Agreement).
On Monday 26 June 2017, the draft Unified Patent Court (Immunities and Privileges) Order 2017 and accompanying Explanatory Memorandum were laid before Parliament. This secondary legislation is needed to give effect in national law to the Protocol on Privileges and Immunities of 29 June 2016, and to enable the UK to reach a position where it can ratify the UPC Agreement and trigger the UK's participation in the provisional application phase (i.e. the sun-rise period for opt-outs).
The draft Order is subject to an affirmative legislative process requiring resolutions of each House of Parliament, and which may involve committees, so the date upon which the draft Order is expected to be passed remains a matter for speculation. Equivalent legislation is required in the Scottish legislature also.
The UK may still be in a position to ratify the UPC Agreement in the early part of the of Autumn 2017, but it will only come into force once it has been ratified by Germany (as well as the UK). For now, the German Constitutional Court has reportedly put a brake on German ratification while issues of German constitutional law are considered. We find it interesting that constitutional issues potentially involving some elements of similarity were raised in litigation in the UK, in Virgin v Jet, but rejected by the Court of Appeal of England and Wales.
The laying of the draft Order before Parliament is recorded in the note of proceedings in the House of Commons on Monday 26 June 2017.