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Intellectual Property: Training

Volume 485: debated on Thursday 11 December 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what assessment his Department has made of the merits of training in intellectual property law for judges and magistrates and their advisers; and what guidance has been issued to the Judicial Studies Board pursuant to recommendation 44 of the Gowers Review of Intellectual Property. (241330)

Responsibility for judicial training lies with the Lord Chief Justice as head of the judiciary and is exercised through the Judicial Studies Board (JSB), an independent body chaired by Lord Justice Maurice Kay. It would not therefore be appropriate for me to issue guidance on judicial training to the JSB.

The JSB’s Magisterial Committee considered this recommendation. Because of the infrequency and relatively straightforward nature of such cases heard in the magistrates courts, and the fact that magistrates have qualified legal advisers to advise them on the principles involved, it was not thought appropriate to train all magistrates and legal advisers.

A paper entitled “The law relating to criminal offences involving infringement of intellectual property rights” was commissioned from a senior QC and is available to judicial office holders and legal advisers on the JSB training website.

Intellectual Property is a specialist area dealt with by a small cadre of specialist judges. It has not been the practice of the JSB to focus on teaching specialist substantive law, and the primary responsibility remains with judges (as with professional lawyers) for updating themselves. The relevant jurisdictional law still provides the background for all JSB training and any important changes will be highlighted at relevant training events.