There have been several recent developments which indicate that the UPC is still on track to become operational within the timeframe set out by the UPC Preparatory Committee here.
The intention is that the UPC will start accepting cases in December 2017 with a sunrise provision (during which opt-outs may start to be filed) starting in September 2017. At present, Germany and the UK are the remaining Participating States which must ratify the UPC agreement before the agreement can come into effect.
Arrangements for proceeding with ratification of the UPC Agreement by Germany have recently progressed with draft legislation to be presented to the German Bundestag for a 13 to 15 February sitting. Germany is likely to delay ratification of the UPC until after the UK has ratified.
In the UK, ratification of the UPC agreement could occur in March or April 2017. The Protocol on Privileges and Immunities of the UPC was put before parliament on 20 January 2017. Once this Protocol has received parliamentary approval and has been ratified, the UK should then proceed to pass the necessary legislation to ratify the UPC Agreement itself.
The Protocol on Privileges and Immunities sets out the legal standing of the premises, documentation and employees of the courts constituting the UPC. It will come into force 30 days after the date on which the last of France, Germany, Luxembourg and the UK (those countries hosting a Central Division or Appeal Court of the UPC) deposit their instruments of ratification. As of 9 February 2017, only the Netherlands has deposited their ratification of the Protocol. It is expected that other states will follow in the near future.
As regards the other Participating States, it is expected that Italy, Slovenia and Lithuania will ratify the UPC Agreement in the near future. This would take the number of states participating in the UPC when it opens to at least 16.