UPC Preparatory Committee re-opens judicial recruitment process


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for judicial positions in the Unified Patent Court are being contacted separately’ to enable applications to updated or withdrawn, as necessary.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 criteria for both legally qualified and technically qualified judges are stated in Article 15 of the UPC Agreement and Article 2 of the UPC Agreement Statute (Annex 1 to the UPC Agreement). A legally qualified judge must have the qualifications required for appointment to judicial offices in their own member state, and information from each member state on those qualifications (and age limits in many cases) is provided here; for the UK, more information is provided here. The information on the selection process of UPC judges includes more on age limits, providing that legally qualified judges must comply with the age limit for appointment at higher and highest national courts but if there is no such age limit then the age limit will be 67 years (which also applies to technically qualified judges).

The recruitment of the UPC judges can only be completed after entry into force of the Protocol on Provisional Application and subsequently the UPC Agreement.

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.

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