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Judicial Appointments (Amendment) Order 2014

Volume 756: debated on Thursday 23 October 2014

Motion to Consider

Moved by

That the Grand Committee do consider the Judicial Appointments (Amendment) Order 2014

Relevant documents 6th Report from the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments

My Lords, the order before us today amends the judicial appointments criteria to enable registered patent attorneys and registered trademark attorneys to be appointed persons able to review the decisions of the Intellectual Property Office as part of the appeals process. Section 10(2) of the Intellectual Property Act 2014 inserted new Section 27A in the Registered Designs Act 1949 under which the Lord Chancellor appoints an appointed person to hear appeals against decisions of the Intellectual Property Office in relation to design rights.

This instrument amends the Judicial Appointments Order 2008 to include an appointed person in the list of those offices for which registered patent attorneys and registered trademark attorneys can satisfy the judicial appointment eligibility condition. The purpose of this draft order is to support the Intellectual Property Act 2014 and its aim to introduce a quicker and more cost-effective route of appeal against design decisions of the IPO. At the moment, the route of appealing against decisions of the IPO in relation to designs is via a dedicated tribunal, which has been used only twice in the past 10 years. It offers no flexibility or route for further appeal. The Government’s aim is to have a process in place for design rights that mirrors the appeals process already in place for appeals against trademark decisions

The decisions of the IPO in relation to trademarks can be appealed to a person appointed by the Lord Chancellor—an “appointed person”—based on a recommendation of the Judicial Appointments Commission. This gives the appeal process some degree of independence from the IPO. To do this in relation to decisions on designs, the IPO has amended Section 27A of the Registered Designs Act 1949 to include similar provisions to those in the Trade Marks Act.

I will give the Committee some background. Following the Hargreaves review of intellectual property and growth, the Government have been carrying out a programme of work to determine how to improve the designs legal framework. This has resulted in changes to design legislation included within the Intellectual Property Act 2014, including those I referred to earlier in relation to determining appeals.

The Government’s aim has been to improve access to justice for businesses using the UK designs registration system by allowing them to choose a low-cost, reliable and efficient appeals route system. The changes make the system easier to understand for users of different forms of intellectual property by simplifying the appeal framework and aligning it with the trademark appeal route. This draft order seeks simply to support that aim by allowing a registered patent attorney or registered trademark attorney who holds a relevant qualification to be eligible to be a person appointed under Section 27A of the Registered Designs Act 1949.

The principles of the Intellectual Property Act 2014 have already been approved by this House. This order seeks merely to support the implementation of that Act by allowing the appointment of appointed persons to hear appeals against design decisions of the IPO. I therefore commend this draft order to the Committee and I beg to move.

My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Ashton of Hyde, for setting out the details of the draft order. The order provides a technical amendment to the Judicial Appointments Order 2008 and will allow the Lord Chancellor to appoint registered patent attorneys and registered trademark attorneys as appointed persons, allowing them to hear appeals against decisions of the Intellectual Property Office.

The Opposition have no issues with the proposal. I have two brief questions that I hope the Minister will be able to answer. As he is aware, the majority of the provisions of the Intellectual Property Act 2014 are set to commence in April 2015. The part of the 2014 Act amended by the order enables the appointment of appointed persons who meet the new criteria. Will the Minister explain why the order is due to take effect before the Act comes into force? Why can we not just wait until the relevant legislation has come into effect? Secondly, the law in this area is highly specialised and complex. Will the Minister confirm to the Grand Committee that he has confidence that the Judicial Appointments Commission has the necessary capacity and expertise to make appointments in this area? However, I put on record the Opposition’s support for the order and look forward to the reply from the noble Lord.

I thank the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, for his questions. He first asked why we were making this change when the commencement date for the Intellectual Property Act 2014 has not passed. The order was laid before Parliament on 7 July 2014. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, the department with oversight for the Intellectual Property Act 2014, enacted the relevant parts in respect of the new appeals process on 15 July 2014. The statutory instrument was considered by the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments on 16 July 2014 and by the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee on 21 July 2014. The relevant parts of the Act have been put in place and this statutory instrument will allow the appeals process to be in place in time for the Intellectual Property Act commencement date of April 2015.

The other question asked by the noble Lord was whether we are confident that the Judicial Appointments Commission has capacity. The answer is yes.

I believe this to be a reasonable amendment which aims to support the Intellectual Property Act 2014 and help UK businesses. I hope that noble Lords agree with me that this is a proportionate and sensible measure.

Motion agreed.