Plans for a unified patent regime for Europe took a step closer this week after a parliamentary committee said it would not refer a statutory instrument on the proposals for further consideration.

In an announcement this week the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments (JCSI) said the Unified Patent Court (Immunities and Privileges) Order 2017 would not need the special attention of both houses and can go forward unchanged for debate. 

The committee, made up of both Lords and MPs, assess draft instruments and if necessary will draw the attention of each house to any matters that may need further consideration.

Grounds for referral include if there has been an unjustifiable delay in publishing or laying the SI before parliament, if its drafting is defective or if its form or meaning needs further clarification.

The Gazette understands that the JCSI was happy for normal procedure to continue, meaning the instrument will now be debated in both houses. A date for the debate could be scheduled as early as next Wednesday, when the JCSI next meets.

The SI gives the UPC its ’legal personality’ in UK law. Once operational, the UPC will be a court system that will hear disputes related to unitary patents – patents that will be valid in 25 EU countries. One of the court’s major divisions will be in Aldgate Tower in London.

The court may, on occasion, refer certain matters to the Court of Justice of the EU though the UK Intellectual Property Office stresses that the CJEU’s role will be restricted to issues of interpretation in limited areas where EU law impacts on patent law.

However, a challenge to Germany’s ratification of the UPC has put the project on hold. Germany, along with the UK and France, have to ratify the agreement before it can go ahead.