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The Unified Patent Court and the Brussels 1 Regulation (recast): How has the Regulation been modified?

Written by Louise AMAR   // 22 May 2015   // Comments Off

How was the Brussels I Regulation modified in order to accommodate the Unitary Patent and the Unified Patent Court? 

Article 89 of the UPC Agreement makes the entry into force of the Agreement dependent upon, among other conditions, the entry into force of the amendments to Regulation (EU) N° 1215/2012 or Brussels I Regulation (recast). The Brussels I Regulation (recast) was adopted on 12 December 2012 to replace Regulation (EC) N°44/2001, and its provisions apply since 10 January 2015 (Article 81 Regulation N°1215/2012). The need to amend the Brussels I Regulations arose because:

  • Under Article 71 of Regulation No 44/2001, Member States were prevented from concluding any new convention that, in relation to particular matters, govern jurisdiction or the recognition or enforcement of judgments
  • The UPC Agreement does not lay down its own rules on international jurisdiction –since the rules on international jurisdiction, recognition and enforcement of judgments concerning the disputes falling within the competence of the UPC had previously been unified within the EU through the Brussels I Regulation;
  • Article 31 of the UPC Agreement states that the international jurisdiction of the UPC shall be established in accordance with Regulation N°1215/2012.

The Brussels I Regulation (recast) sets out a harmonised recognition and enforcement of foreign judgment rules in civil and commercial matters within the European Union. Regulation N° 1215/2012 is a recast version of the prior Brussels I Regulation, which had been in force since 1 March 2002. The recast Regulation applies to legal proceedings commenced in the courts of EU Member States on or after 10 January 2015; the Brussels I Regulation however continues to apply to legal proceedings commenced before that date. Both Regulations apply to all EU Member States and in order to ensure a consistent application of the Regulation throughout the European Union, any national court or tribunal is able to refer a question of interpretation of the Regulation to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).

The basic rule of jurisdiction established by the Regulation is that the defendant must be sued in the courts of the Member State in which she is domiciled. A defendant who is domiciled in one Member State may only be sued in the courts of another Member State to the extent authorised by the Regulation. The introduction of the unitary patent however led to some modifications of that rule, now contained in the Brussels I Regulation (Recast). The Unified Patent Court will in fact have jurisdiction over claims regarding the unitary patent where a defendant is domiciled in a Member State (art 71b(1) and art 71a). Where the defendant is not so domiciled then it will also have jurisdiction where a person consents to the UPC’s jurisdiction (art 71b(2))or where the patent is infringed causing damage within the EU and the defendant has property located in a country which is party to the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court and the dispute has a significant connection with any Member State to the UPC (art 71b(3)).

All necessary changes relating to the UPC  Agreement are combined in four new provisions all contained in Article 71, which states:

“1. This Regulation shall not affect any conventions to which the Member States are parties and which, in relation to particular matters, govern jurisdiction or the recognition or enforcement of judgments.

2. With a view to its uniform interpretation, paragraph 1 shall be applied in the following manner:

(a)  this Regulation shall not prevent a court of a Member State which is party to a convention on a particular matter from assuming jurisdiction in accordance with that convention, even where the defendant is domiciled in another Member State which is not party to that convention. The court hearing the action shall, in any event, apply Article 28 of this Regulation;

(b)  judgments given in a Member State by a court in the exercise of jurisdiction provided for in a convention on a particular matter shall be recognised and enforced in the other Member States in accordance with this Regulation.

Where a convention on a particular matter to which both the Member State of origin and the Member State addressed are parties lays down conditions for the recognition or enforcement of judgments, those conditions shall apply. In any event, the provisions of this Regulation on recognition and enforcement of judgments may be applied.”

In order to ensure the coherent application of the UPC Agreement and the Brussels I Regulation (recast) , it was in fact necessary to address the following issues in the Brussels I Regulation (recast):

Clarify in the text of the Regulation that the Unified Patent Court and the Benelux Court of Justice are ‘courts’ within the meaning of the Brussels I Regulation:

By clarifying that both the Unified Patent Court and the Benelux Court of Justice should be considered as “courts” within the meaning of the Brussels I Regulation (recast), it ensures that the international jurisdiction of these courts will be determined by the Brussels I Regulation. It in particular ensures that defendants which would expect to be sued in a specific Member State on the basis of the rules of the Brussels I Regulation may be sued before either a division of the Unified Patent Court or before the Benelux Court of Justice which is located in another Member State than the national courts designated on the basis of the Brussels I Regulation. Legal certainty and predictability for defendants requires that this change of territorial jurisdiction is set out clearly in the text of the Brussels I Regulation.

Clarify the operation of the rules on jurisdiction with respect to the Unified Patent Court and the Benelux Court of Justice insofar as defendants domiciled in Member States are concerned. Create uniform rules for the international jurisdiction vis-à-vis third State defendants in proceedings against such defendants brought in the Unified Patent Court and Benelux Court of Justice in situations where the Brussels I Regulation does not itself provide for such rules but refers to national law;

The new rule in Article 71b, paragraph 1 prescribes that the Unified Patent Court and the Benelux Court of Justice will have jurisdiction any time when a national court of one of the respective Contracting Member States would have jurisdiction based on the rules of the Brussels I Regulation. On the contrary, the Unified Patent Court and the Benelux Court of Justice will not have jurisdiction when no national court of a Contracting Member State has jurisdiction pursuant to the Brussels I Regulation.

Define the application of the rules on lis pendens and related actions in relation to the Unified Patent Court and the Benelux Court of Justice on the one hand and the national courts of Member States which are not Contracting Party to the respective international agreements on the other hand. Define also the operation of these rules during the transitional period referred to in Article 83(1) UPC Agreement:

The new proposal in Art. 71b, paragraph 2 extends the Regulation’s jurisdiction rules to disputes involving third State defendants domiciled in third States. In addition, the Unified Patent Court’s and Benelux Court of Justice’s jurisdiction to issue provisional, including protective measures is ensured even when the courts of third States have jurisdiction as to the substance of the matter.

As a result of this extension, access to the Unified Patent Court and the Benelux Court of Justice will be ensured in situations where the defendant is not domiciled in an EU Member State. In addition, such access is ensured independently of which instance or division within the Unified Patent Court is seized of a claim.

In addition, the new proposal in Art. 71b, paragraph 3 establishes one additional forum for disputes involving defendants domiciled outside the EU. The proposal provides that a non-EU defendant can be sued at the place where moveable assets belonging to them are located, provided their value is not insignificant compared to the value of the claim and that the dispute has a sufficient connection with the Member State of the court seized. The forum of the location of assets balances the absence of the defendant in the Union.

Clarify the operation of the rules on recognition and enforcement in the relations between Member States which are and Member States which are not Contracting Parties to the respective international agreements:  

The new rule in Art 71c prescribes that the rules on lis pendens and related actions of the Brussels I Regulation (recast) apply between the Unified Patent Court or the Benelux Court of Justice on the one hand and the courts of non-Contracting Member States on the other hand. Finally, this Article also prescribes that the rules of the Brussels I Regulation (recast) apply when, during the transitional period referred to in Article 83(1) UPC Agreement, proceedings are brought before the Unified Patent Court on the one hand and before the national courts of Contracting Member States to that Agreement on the other hand.

Clarify the operation of the rules on recognition and enforcement in the relations between Member States which are and Member States which are not Contracting Parties to the respective international agreements:

Art. 71d regulates the recognition and enforcement of judgments of the Unified Patent Court and the Benelux Court of Justice in Member States which are not Contracting Parties to the respective international agreements, as well as the recognition and enforcement of judgments given in Member States which are not Contracting Parties to these agreements in matters governed by such agreements which need to be recognised and enforced in Member States Contracting Parties to the international agreements.


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