The Preparatory Committee of the Unified Patent Court (UPC) announced on 3 June 2019, that it would re-open the recruitment process for judges. This new round complements the initial round of recruitment for legal and technical judges in 2016, and hopes to attract applicants who chose not to apply in the first round or who were ineligible. Applicants have until 29 July 2019 to apply, according to the Vacancy Notice.
For the 2016 applicants, the Preparatory Committee stated in a Press Release of 19 December 2018 that ‘Those that have applied for judicial positions in the Unified Patent Court are being contacted separately’ to enable applications to updated or withdrawn, as necessary.
Eligibility and appointment criteria are stated in Articles 15 and 16 of the Unified Patent Court Agreement. The term of office for a judge is 6 years (Article 4 of the UPC Agreement), and, additionally, under the Guidance on the Recruitment of Judges for the Unified Patent Court judges must fulfil any eligibility criteria pertinent to an appointment to the High Court in their own national member state; in the UK, judges must be under 70 and have a ‘reasonable length of service’.
The recruitment of the Unified Patent Court judges can only be completed after entry into force of the Protocol on Provisional Application and subsequently the Agreement on the Unified Patent Court.
Commencement of the UPC and further mandatory ratification by Germany is currently on hold, awaiting the Decision of the German Constitutional Court. Although it is hoped that there will be a Decision in this case later in 2019, there is no reason to think there is any link between the recruitment announcement of the Preparatory Committee and the current German court procedure: it is more likely that it is simply the case that some three years having passed, it is time to refresh the process, particularly since some applicants may now have passed the age where they would wish (or be eligible – the maximum starting age is 67) to embark on a new career as a UPC judge.