News & Events

Referendum on Unified Patent Court announced by Government

Polling day will be the same day as the European elections

The Government has today (23 January) approved a proposal to hold a constitutional referendum in June on Ireland’s participation in the Unified Patent Court. The referendum is to be held alongside the European and local elections.

The Government has also approved the priority drafting of a Bill to give effect to the proposed constitutional amendment.

The Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Simon Coveney, has published the General Scheme of the Bill (PDF) and hopes to obtain approval for the publication of the Bill and its priority initiation in the Dáil in the coming weeks.

The Agreement on a Unified Patent Court (UPCA), providing for the setting up of an International Court between contracting states, was signed in February 2013 by 25 EU Member States, including Ireland. An amendment to Article 29 of the Constitution to add the UPC Agreement as an international agreement to the Constitution would be required before Ireland could join the UPC, as it entails a transfer of jurisdiction in patent litigation from the Irish courts to an international court.

The General Scheme of the Bill proposes to insert a new subsection 11 in section 4 of Article 29, providing that the State may ratify the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court signed at Brussels on February 19, 2013.

Following the passage of the legislation through the Houses of the Oireachtas, An Coimisiún Toghcháin, the Electoral Commission is responsible for explaining each referendum proposal in an independent and impartial way. It is also its role to promote public awareness of referendums and to encourage people to vote.