Unified Patent Court

French, German and Italian UPC local divisions to now offer English as alternative language of proceedings

Published on 1st Jun 2023

A late-stage U-turn may not provide claimants with as much control over language of proceedings as it initially appears

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The Unified Patent Court (UPC) recently published an official list of nominated languages of each local division, with those in France, Germany and Italy having not opted to offer English as an acceptable language. However, they have all made a late U-turn on the day of the UPC's launch to include English as an acceptable language.

Official list update

The of nominated languages is now as follows:




Local Division

Vienna (AT)

German, English

Brussels (BE)

Dutch, French, German, English*

Copenhagen (DK)

Danish, English

Helsinki (FI)

Finnish, Swedish, English

Paris (FR)

French, English*

Düsseldorf (DE)

German, English*

Hamburg (DE)

German, English*

Mannheim (DE)

German, English*

Munich (DE)

German, English*

Milan (IT)

Italian, English*

The Hague (NL)

Dutch, English

Lisbon (PT)

Portuguese, English

Ljubljana (SI)

Slovenian, English

Regional Division

Nordic-Baltic (SE, EE, LT, LV)


* Nomination made under Rule 14.2(c) UPC Rules of Procedure

However, the designation of English by these divisions has been made subject to Rule 14.2(c) of the Rules of Procedure, which allows the judge-rapporteur to order, in the interests of the panel of judges, that the oral proceedings and any orders or judgments are given in French, German and Italian respectively, with any orders or judgments being accompanied by an official English translation. The UPC has also clarified that Belgium's inclusion of English in its list of acceptable languages was also made on that basis.

Osborne Clarke comment

France, Germany and Italy's inclusion of English as an official language of proceedings in their local divisions marks a last-minute change of direction, which is perhaps in response to concerns over whether the lack of English as an option would dampen their popularity.

However, the designation under Rule 14.2(c) of the Rules of Procedure empowers the judge-rapporteur to override the selection of English, if it is in the interests of the panel of judges and, therefore, perhaps gives less control to users of those divisions than it may initially appear. It remains to be seen how frequently this power will be exercised in practice – if used on a regular basis, this could still impact the popularity of these divisions.

This Insight was updated on Friday 2 June 2023.


* This article is current as of the date of its publication and does not necessarily reflect the present state of the law or relevant regulation.

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