In his wide ranging paper “Doing Law Differently” published yesterday, Lord Falconer, Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs, wrote:
“In order to sustain our justice system a number of changes are necessary. We need to preserve the aspects of the system that work well and reform those areas that are poorly designed, ineffective or restrictive. Reforms are being taken forward, but in a way that is very different from what has gone before.”
One of the reforms commended by the Lord Chancellor is purposeful co-operation between the courts and other public service agencies. In the criminal system he commends the North Liverpool Community Justice Centre which brings together a multi-jurisdictional courtroom that has the sentencing powers of Magistrates’, Youth and Crown Courts, with a range of ‘on-site’ services including victim support and services dealing with drug addiction, debt and housing.
On the civil side, the report continues, there is a similar opportunity for intellectual property. HM Court Service has earmarked a site on the A468 Carerphilly Road for an integrated hearing centre for the Patents Court, Patents County Court and hearing officers for Patent Office and Trade Marks Registry hearings. “This will be an excellent opportunity to bring all the resources of the Patent Office onto one site” enthused Miles Rees, Business Development Manager, Awareness, Information & Media at The Patent Office ” I shall be able to give full details at my talk to the Sheffield Inventors Club on Monday.”
The new site will also house Intellectual Property Division of the new UK Supreme Court (to be known as “UKID”) modelled on the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit which will hear appeals from the Courts of Appeal of England and Wales and Northern Ireland and the Inner House of the Court of Session. There are rumours flying around that one ex-judge who recently retired from the bench to become a consultant to a firm of patent agents has been approached to preside over this new tribunal. No doubt we will learn whether there is any truth in them from Times jounralist Nicola Laver (a normally impeccably accurate source) when her next column appears.