2019-11-21
21 November 2019Big PharmaRory O'Neill

LSPN Europe: English contract law still ‘fit for purpose’ despite Brexit

English law remains fit for purpose in international contracts in spite of Brexit, heard attendees at  Life Sciences Patent Network Europe today, November 21.

Sally Shorthose, partner at  Bird & Bird, said she had observed “some resistance” to the choice of English law as the governing law in international contracts.

Despite these concerns, English law remains “fit for purpose, Shorthose said.

“If we accede to the Hague Convention then English court judgments on contracts containing an exclusive English jurisdiction clause will be enforceable across the 27 EU member states,” she said.

Brexit will still have an impact on the life sciences industry in general, particularly with respect to the regulation of medicines.

Shorthose said that the European regulatory environment would be worse off for losing the contribution of the UK.

“Historically, the [UK] Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has had a very prominent role in the development of the European regulatory environment generally,” she said.

“It will be sad to lose many decades of experience in the MHRA,” Shorthose added.

Brexit could also see the UK become a source of parallel imports of medicines into the EU, the Bird & Bird partner predicted.

“This might be good for lawyers, but not necessarily good for everyone else,” she said.

Chris de Mauny, a senior associate, also at Bird & Bird, spoke on some of the unresolved issues in UK life sciences patent enforcement.

These include so-called  Arrow declarations, which de Mauny said illustrated the “creativity of the UK courts in finding ways around practical problems”.

The Arrow declaration stems from the English High Court’s ruling in Arrow Generics v Merck. It is a remedy granted when a party can demonstrate that a product covered by the claims in a patent is not eligible for protection as at the patent’s priority date.

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