This article provides a short note on the clarification to the changes to the Patents County Court Rules brought in on 01 October 2010.
HHJ Birss QC clarified that the recent changes do not apply retrospectively to claims commenced in the Patents County Court before the date the rules commenced.
HHJ Birss stated:
i) Although there are no express transitional provisions forming part of the new rules, nothing in the provisions bringing the new rules into effect states expressly that they should apply to existing cases and if so how.
ii) The new Patents County Court procedures are intended to be radically different from the familiar rules of procedure under the CPR. The rules address statements of case, statements of truth, case management, conduct of trials, costs and other matters. The new procedures consist of a package of measures which interact with each other and were intended to operate as such. To best achieve that objective the rules need to be applied as a whole. The rules cannot be applied as a whole to an existing case. The position of a case started in the High Court and transferred into the Patents County Court after the new rules have come into force is not before me and may raise different considerations.
iii) Litigation which had been started in the Patents County Court before the 1st October 2010 was commenced under a regime in which costs were dealt with in the familiar way. There is a general presumption against retrospective legislation (16(1) of the Interpretation Act 1978) which applies to subordinate legislation as much as to primary legislation (Nicholls v Greenwich  EWCA Civ 416 <http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2003/416).