The proposed Unified Patent Court for Europe has been delayed again, the committee tasked with implementing the court has announced.

In a statement today the preparatory committee said that due to delays with some member states’ finalisation procedures, the court will not open in December this year, as had originally been planned.

Aldgate Tower, UK branch of the Unified Patent Court

Aldgate Tower

Source: Michael Cross

Aldgate Tower, UK branch of the Unified Patent Court

‘A few member states must still agree to be bound by the protocol,’ the statement said. ‘Due to some delays with these procedures, the previously announced target date envisaged for December 2017, cannot be maintained,’ it added.

Once operational, the UPC will hear disputes related to EU-wide patents called unitary patents.

The government’s decision late last year to ratify the agreement caused speculation that the UK could be heading for a soft Brexit.

Although the government insists it is ‘not an EU institution’ the court would need to refer matters that hinged on EU law to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

The pledge to ratify the agreement was at odds with Theresa May’s promise to end the jurisdiction of the CJEU on UK soil.

An arm of the central division of the court, which will have major bases in Germany and France and minor divisions across the EU, would be based in Aldgate Tower on the edge of the City of London.

The committee said the progress of national procedures concerning ratification was being continuously monitored and that it would publish a new timetable as soon as possible.

According to one of the rules covering the UPC, only solicitors registered to practise before a court in an EU member state are able to litigate through the court.

That would prevent UK-based solicitors and barristers acting for clients in the court after the UK leaves the EU, though patent attorneys would still be able to appear.