How are the proceedings in the UPC structured?

Proceedings will follow three stages, a written procedure, interim procedure and oral procedure. During the written procedure the parties will exchange pleadings outlining and arguing their respective cases, typically two pleadings on each side. In the interim procedure a judge – the “judge-rapporteur” – will make all necessary preparations for the final oral hearing and may call the parties to an interim conference to facilitate those preparations. The judge rapporteur will also explore the potential for settlement. The oral procedure will be under the control of a presiding judge and will consist of the hearing of the parties’ submissions and, if ordered during the interim procedure, the hearing of witnesses and experts.

The intention is that the oral hearing should normally be completed within one day and that the first instance proceedings should be concluded in approximately a year, though in practice it may take longer.

Importantly, all appeals will be to a central Court of Appeal, located in Luxembourg. Procedural decisions can be “reviewed”. This will ensure harmonisation of substantive law and procedure across the Local, Regional and Central divisions and is therefore of critical importance to the new system.

The decisions of all divisions of the Court of First Instance as well as decisions of the Court of Appeal should be enforceable in any participating Member State without the need for a declaration of enforceability from a national court.

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