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Want to be a Judge at the UPC? Recruitment now open

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IMG_8533-1The unitary patent system is moving towards launch with most people anticipating the start of operations to occur at some point next year. The Unified Patent Court is to comprise a registry, Court of First Instance and a Court of Appeal. The Court of First Instance will have a central division based in Paris, with sections in London and Munich, and a number of local and regional divisions spread through the Contracting Member States. The Court of Appeal will be in Luxembourg.

A court needs judges though and the UPC is now looking for applicants to recruit as both the legally qualified and technically qualified judges. The recruitment process is now open and the closing date is just under two months away on 4 July 2016. Vacancy notices can be found here (EN, FR, DE).

Information relating to the selection process may be found in the recruitment information document. Under Article 15 of the UPCA legally qualified judges need to hold the qualifications required for appointment to judicial offices in a Contracting Member State. Technically qualified judges need to have a university degree, proven expertise in a field of technology and proven knowledge of civil law and procedure relevant to patent litigation. Judges also need to have a good command of at least one of English, French or German (Article 2 UPCA Statute).

The various national level qualification requirements are detailed in a separate attachment. IPcopy notes that the UK entry (see page 54) wins the prize for brevity.

The UPC is looking for several full and part time posts for the legally qualified judge positions and several part time posts for the technically qualified judge positions. Both technically qualified and legally qualified judges will be appointed for 6 years. Candidates need to be nationals of one of the Member States to have signed the UPCA but to be appointed candidates will need to be nationals of Member States that have ratified the UPCA.

The age limit for appointment as a legally qualified judge is the age limit for appointment at national level or 67 years if no age limit is specified. The age limit for technically qualified judges is 67 years.

Legally qualified judges and full time technically qualified judges cannot engage in any other occupation unless they are granted an exception. Part time legally qualified judges and full time technically qualified judges look like they’ll be able to request such an extension. EPO Board of Appeal members however will not be able to obtain such an exception.

Legally qualified judges (full time, Court of First Instance) will receive a salary of 11,000 Euros (net) per month. Legally qualified judges (full time, Court of Appeal) will receive a salary of 12,000 Euros (net) per month. Technically qualified judges (full time) will get 11,000 Euros (net) per month. IPcopy calculates these salary figures are roughly equal to £177,000-194,000 per year (gross). It is noted that UK High Court judges receive in the region of £178,000 and UK Court of Appeal judges receive in the region of £203,000 (according to the UK Gov website for judicial salaries).

The selection process is expected to take around 7 months.

Mark Richardson 12 May 2016

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