Although France and Luxembourg ratified the Unified Patent Court (UPC) Agreement in 2014 and 2015 respectively, they have not yet ratified the UPC’s Protocol on Privileges and Immunities (PPI). However, draft legislation to authorise ratification of the PPI is now progressing in both countries’ parliaments. The PPI will give legal personality to the Court and provide the Court and its judges, Registrar and other staff with the various privileges and immunities. Because the seat of the Court’s central division will be in Paris and the Court of Appeal and Registry will be in Luxembourg, France and Luxembourg are two of the four countries that must ratify the PPI in order for it to come into force. (The other mandatory ratifying countries are the UK and Germany, where the other parts of the central division will be located.)
In France, a bill authorising ratification of the PPI was approved by the French National Assembly on 4 October 2017 (where it was introduced by the government together with an impact study) and is progressing through the Senate (Parliament’s other chamber). For a bill to be passed by Parliament, both chambers must approve the identical text. On 6 December 2017, the Senate’s Committee on Foreign Affairs, following consideration of the rapporteur’s report and his recommendation, approved the bill without amendment. The rapporteur, Ronan Le Gleut, had outlined the proposed UPC system and the situation in Germany and the UK regarding ratification of the UPC Agreement; he noted that a decision from the German Constitutional Court on the current challenge to ratification was expected next spring and also that, according to the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the UK may ratify early next year. Regarding France’s participation in the UPC, Mr Le Gleut commented on France’s central role (with not only the headquarters of the central division being in Paris but also the first President of the Court of First Instance being French) and the importance of the UPC system to French industry and the economy. The Senate will now examine the bill next week, on 20 December.
In Luxembourg, on 18 October 2017 the Government’s Minister of Foreign and European Affairs deposited in the Chamber of Deputies (the unicameral Parliament) a bill authorising ratification of the PPI. On 7 November, the Council of State (a third body, which is consulted as part of the legislative process) adopted the bill by a unanimous vote (reported here). The bill will now be considered by the Chamber of Deputies’ Committee on Foreign and European Affairs, Defence, Cooperation and Immigration.