Patent court decision 'worth £3bn a year to UK'
The UK legal sector could lose almost £3bn a year if the proposed new European central patents court is not based in London, the Law Society claimed this week.
The warning came ahead of yesterday’s meeting of the European Council of Ministers, when the location of the new patents court was due to be discussed again after 40 years of failed negotiations. The Law Society has urged justice secretary Kenneth Clarke not to compromise the UK’s position as a leading commercial legal centre by agreeing to the new court - the Central Division of the Unified Patent Court - being based in Paris or Munich, rather than London. Munich already hosts the European Patent Office, which was set up in 1978.
The Law Society pointed to a report by FTI Consulting LLP which said the cost to the UK of not locating the court in London would be at least £683m a year, and potentially up to £2.95bn.
Law Society chief executive Desmond Hudson, who this week wrote to the justice secretary on the subject, said: ‘If the UK government agrees that the new court should be based in Paris or Munich instead of London, we will see the UK’s intellectual property expertise disappear overseas.
‘London and the UK is seeking to become the European centre for commercial litigation and arbitration. That aspiration will be diluted if the new court is opened elsewhere.’ An agreement to create a single patent court was to be signed in December 2011, but Britain, France and Germany failed to agree over its location.
- See Opinion