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House of Lords Grand Committee approves draft UK UPC legislation

6 December 2017



The House of Lords Grand Committee has today considered the draft Unified Patent Court (Immunities and Privileges) Order 2017  and this draft Statutory Instrument (SI) will now be voted on by the House (with no debate). The draft SI was one of several considered by the Grand Committee today.  A video of the meeting is here, this SI being introduced at 16.28, and the Hansard report will be available here.  Lord Henley, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, moved the motion ‘That the Committee has considered the draft Unified Patent Court (Immunities and Privileges) Order 2017’.  Lord Henley then described the purpose of the Order (in summary, to confer legal status on the Unified Patent Court and certain privileges and immunities on the Court, judges and its staff to ensure proper functioning of the Court) and outlined the importance of the UPC and its benefits to businesses, referring also to its central division dealing with patents in pharmaceuticals and life sciences being in the UK.  Lord Henley explained that the government is proceeding with its commitment to participate in the UPC and the main UK legislative steps required for this had already been completed.  After a few comments and questions, the Committee agreed to the motion.  Among the Committee members welcoming the Order were two former Ministers for Intellectual Property, Baroness Neville-Rolfe and Baroness Wilcox, who had both been involved with the UPC project. 
 
The House of Commons approved the draft SI on Monday (4 December).  Therefore, if it is approved by the House of Lords (probably next week), it will be put before the Privy Council for final approval. As Lord Henley mentioned today, it may not make the Privy Council’s December meeting but if not it will be discussed at its first meeting of 2018.  The Privy Council must also approve this draft SI’s Scottish equivalent (the draft International Organisations (Immunities and Privileges) (Scotland) Amendment (No. 2) Order 2017), which the Scottish Parliament has already approved.  After approval of the two SIs, the UK will be in a position to ratify both the UPC’s Protocol on Privileges and Immunities and the UPC Agreement.