The separate legal and court system in Scotland has given rise to a debate as to whether, assuming Scotland remains as part of the UK, it should host a second UPC local division for the UK. There is little doubt that the UK has an entitlement to at least two and possibly three or four local divisions, but in contrast to Germany which appears to wish to take advantage of its full quota of four, there has to date been little appetite for additional UK local divisions outside London. However, the debate on the passage of the IP Bill on 12 March provided an opportunity for the Scottish National Party MP, Pete Wishart, to press the case for an Edinburgh local division. In response, Mr Willetts for the Government said that “the Government will look favourably at any proposal to site a local division wherever there is a business need, and a local division can be located in Scotland should there be enough cases to support one”, and that “the only reason … for that not happening is if there were a conspicuous lack of demand”.
This had been seized upon by Mr Wishart as “a fantastic victory for the legal establishment in Scotland”. The caveat, however, that Mr Willets specified, is a major one. The number of Scottish patent cases is rather low, amounting to no more than a handful per year. It seems unlikely to establish a “business need” and probably does amount to a “conspicuous lack of demand”. More likely, therefore, is that there will be just one local division in London, unless there is a political agreement to subsidise an Edinburgh division.