Expert representation from experienced Extradition lawyers

extradition solicitor london

BSQ partner Roger J Sahota is one of the leading UK solicitor practitioners in the field of international criminal law and works closely with some of the recognised experts in this area at the Bar. The firm also has links to reputable criminal lawyers internationally who can assist in forestalling extradition in the requesting state.

Extradition is a discrete branch of criminal law based on treaty agreements with the requesting states or multilateral agreements such as the European Arrest Warrant Framework. 

We have acted in a number of notable extradition cases including challenges to EAW requests and Category 2 cases in the context of business and organised crime investigations.

Contact us for a free initial call to discuss your case and visit our blog for regular updates on developments in the field.

The NCA Comes Knocking

The extradition process often starts without warning. It is important that specialist advice is obtained at a very early stage as soon as it clear that a criminal investigation has begun.

Once a request is made by the Requesting state it will be communicated to the National Crime Agency, who will then contact the Requested Person seeking their arrest or surrender. The Requested Person is the taken into custody and produced before the Westminster Magistrates Court which is home to the specialist CPS extradition casework unit and a retinue of judges specially trained to deal with these cases.

Extradition Law

The law of Extradition consists of arrangements between states for the handing over of people from one state to another in order that they may face trial or serve sentences that they have evaded.

In the UK the Extradition Act 2003 introduced new rules that govern all extradition requests.   Two procedures now apply depending on whether the country requesting extradition is a category 1 or 2 state.

The fast track European Arrest Warrant framework creates a simplified procedure for category 1 cases which apply to all request between EAW member states which includes all the EU countries.

A more complex procedure applies for category 2 states i.e. non EAW countries. Both procedures must be compatible with the European Convention of Human Rights.

EAW – Category 1

The EAW was introduced in 2003 to streamline extradition requests between EU member states. It was supposed to introduce a new “quick and efficient” system whereby individuals due to stand trial or serve prison sentences after conviction could be easily transferred between member states.

After a request is made at the first an extradition hearing a Judge will check that the details on the warrant were correct and, that the person before the court was really the wanted man and whether the offence for which the warrant has been issued fell within a list of EAW offences fixed by statute – the Extradition Act 2003. If so, the court is obliged to order extradition unless one of a set list of bars applies including:

1. Double jeopardy - this means facing proceedings for the same offence twice.

2. Passage of time - where so much time has passed since the original offence that it is unfair or oppressive to proceed against a defendant.

3. Age - where the defendant would have been under the UK age of criminal responsibility when the original offence took place.

4. Hostage taking - Whether an earlier extradition has already taken place from another country, consent may be needed before another extradition takes place.

5. Extraneous issues- this means when the proceedings in the foreign state are actually a cover for an ulterior motive, or where the person will be disadvantaged during the foreign proceedings because of that same ulterior motive, for example, racial or political victimisation.

The new EAW system removed many of the safeguards under the old law. No longer is the requesting state required to produce the evidence on which an arrest warrant had been based. Whether the evidence presented is insufficient to prosecute by our standards is now irrelevant.  Avenues for an appeal were also very much reduced. It has been the subject of much criticism – see BSQ blog.

In addition, the Government changed the law recently to add two new grounds for refusal – the over use of the EAW in trivial cases (see BSQ briefing) and its employment in cases where there was likely to be a long delay before trial in the requesting state.

Category 2 Cases

Extradition arrangements with non-EAW countries will vary according to the international agreements between the UK and the requesting state – the UK has a treaty with special provisions with the USA for example.

In most cases, in comparison with EAW cases there is greater scope for UK courts refuse extradition – for example the requesting state may be required to produce the evidence on whichan arrest warranthas been based so thatthe UK courts can decide if there was sufficient evidence to prosecute the accused (a prima facie case) and if the offence was covered by the extradition treaty between the countries and the dual criminality requirement is satisfied.