The Preparatory Committee published last Tuesday (16/09/2014) an updated roadmap which highlights the amendments to key millstones towards the delivery of the European Package.
If this new version of the roadmap starts with the work completed in 2014, most of it is dedicated to the ongoing work divided into five areas of work: the Legal Framework, the Financial Aspects, IT, the Facilities, and the Human Resources and Training.
Here are the main points of the new roadmap:
- The Preparatory Committee plans for the Rules of Procedure to be agreed upon in May 2015 after being amended and reviewed by a first team.
- The rules on Legal Aid were discussed in July 2014 and a final draft will be agreed by January 2015.
- A consensus was reached in July 2014 on the proposals on the Rules for the Administrative Committee of the UPC and on the Budget Committee of the UPC.
- A second report is expected in November 2014 on Mediation and Arbitration.
- A revised draft for the Rules of the litigation certificate for Patent Attorneys is expected for early 2015, after a public consultation in June and July 2014 on the first draft published in March.
- A final agreement on financial regulations which includes the provisions concerning the establishment, structure and implementation of the budget, internal control and audit procedure is scheduled for October 2014. `
- An evaluation of the budget must also be done in order to quantify the operational costs for the next seven years while taking into account that during the transitional period many costs will be borne by the Signatory States hosting seats or divisions of the Court.
Legal Framework and Financial Aspects on Court fees and Recoverable costs:
The Legal Framework team and the Financial Aspects team are both responsible for the Court fees and the recoverable costs. While the legal group will primarily assume the responsibility for the establishment of a schedule of the different fees, the financial group will determine the amount for those different fees of the court.
“A schedule for the Court fees, containing of a fixed fee as well as a value based fee above the defined ceiling of the fixed fee shall be established. Also a method for the calculation of the value of the case shall be defined. The question of court fees is also dealt with by the financial group. (…) A scale of recoverable costs shall be adopted, which shall set ceilings for such costs by reference to the value of the dispute. ”
The discussion on Court fees will start at the end of 2014 and will be followed in spring 2015 by the consultation on fees which will then allow the budget for the first year to be finalized.
Human Resources and Training:
- The training of candidate judges, the nomination of the first group of judges, and the organisation of the first pool of judges seem to be a priority for the Preparatory Committee. The Preparatory Committee is focusing at the moment on a provisional intensive training for candidate judges which should run during the preparatory phase and the first year of the UPC. Preparations for this training have hence started with the first training programs expected to start before the end of December 2014. This first training initiative will then be followed by a “permanent training framework, that shall be further developed and endorsed by the Administrative Committee once established “.
- For legally qualified judges, training should consist of advanced courses in patent law and patent litigation, possibly combined with mock-trials and internships at patent courts in countries with highly specialized and highly experienced patent courts as well as courses on the UPC Agreement and the Rules of Procedure. For technically qualified judges training should consist of basic concepts of patent law relating in particular to the validity and basic concepts of civil procedure, as well as training on the UPC Agreement and the Rules of Procedure. For both legally and technically qualified judges language training should allow judges to work on files and participate in deliberations on a patent case in at least one language which is not their mother tongue.
- Preparations are also being made for the nomination of judges. A pre-selection process was concluded in July 2014, and a provisional list of suitable candidates was approved by the Committee. The final number of judges however will be determined with regard to the number of cases and divisions. It is thus assumed that in the early years, the UPC will work as much as possible with part-time judges and (in particular in the local divisions with high workload, the central division and the Court of Appeal) a limited number of full-time judges. Hence, “recruitment of the first judges of the UPC will aim at appointing a sufficient number of part-time and full-time judges before the entry into operation of the UPC and to create a reserve list of judges who could be appointed should the case-law increase more than expected.”