The new Government of Ireland’s Legislative Programme dated 8 June 2016 lists the legislation the government intends to publish over the next few months, and this includes an ‘Amendment of the Constitution (Unified Patent Court) Bill’. Because legislation to enable Ireland to ratify the UPC Agreement would conflict with the Constitution, the Constitution would need to be amended and the Bill’s purpose is “To amend Article 29 of the Constitution to recognise the International Agreement on a Unified Patent Court”. Amendment of the Constitution requires a referendum, and the new government had already proposed in ‘A Programme for a Partnership Government’ that a referendum on Ireland’s participation in the UPC be held. To call a constitutional referendum, a proposal to amend the Constitution must be introduced as a Bill into the Oireachtas (the Irish parliament) and passed by both houses. The Amendment of the Constitution (Unified Patent Court) Bill is listed in the Legislative Programme among the Bills each government department plans to introduce ‘in the long term’ rather than those to be dealt with in the current Session. However, it is still possible that the referendum will be held later this year and Ireland will be ready to participate in the UPC when it opens. The Bill’s status is ‘Heads approved on 23 July 2014’; the Programme’s Foreword explains that under the Pre-Legislative Stage for Bills (introduced by the previous government) ‘Committees can now review the Heads of a Bill and meet with experts, interested citizens and civil society groups working in the area before providing a Report to the Minister while the Bill is still being drafted.’
Another demonstration of the government’s commitment to Ireland’s participation in the UPC is the Law Society of Ireland’s publication of Nominees sought for Advisory Committee of the Unified Patent Court: ‘The Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation has invited patent judges and practitioners in patent law to put themselves forward for nomination to the Advisory Committee of the Unified Patent Court.” The UPC Advisory Committee (comprising a representative from each participating member state and appointed by the UPC Administrative Committee) will be involved with the recruitment of judges and their training.