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Bivonas Law is a leading criminal litigation and commercial disputes boutique based in the City of London.
Bivonas Law was established in 1997 and from the outset has acted in large-scale commercial disputes, criminal investigations and prosecutions and regulatory investigations.
We have a track record spanning two decades of succeeding in cases where our client, usually an individual or a privately owned business, is facing significant financial, reputational or criminal liability exposure. Our clients’ opponents often include banks and financial institutions, multinational companies and government agencies including law enforcement and regulators.
Our cases are often multi-jurisdictional and high profile. We have a global network of personally known and trusted high level advisers, experts and business connections, which allows us to meet the most complex of challenges and succeed for our clients.
Bivonas Law has a history of advising Russian and CIS based clients as well as clients with interests in these states. In 2016 we forged an alliance with Pen & Paper, a pre-eminent law firm specialising in white-collar crime and commercial litigation, with offices in Moscow and St. Petersburg.
The combination of our independent resources provides access to international and domestic expertise and the high level connections of both practices. Our firms have established a high level of trust and mutual understanding and our close communication enhances the service we can provide for our clients.
Bivonas Law and Pen & Paper’s services can be provided seamlessly when assisting clients facing parallel criminal and civil proceedings in both the English and Russian jurisdictions.
Our many years of international experience enable us to offer clients the highest level of advice in all areas of white-collar crime investigations and prosecutions, and commercial disputes involving fraud and defending assets from confiscation and seizure in the UK, Russia and CIS.
We act for businesses of all sizes and for private individuals, involving matters carrying significant reputational and financial risk. We have a global network of specialist lawyers and high level advisors, which allows us to meet the most complex of challenges and succeed for our clients.
Examples of our work include:
Shareholder dispute involving a major Russian manufacturer and an offshore subsidiary.
Defending an extradition request.
Advising in relation to an Interpol Red Notice.
Acting for a business owner accused of fraudulently obtaining bank loans.
Advising a victim of corporate raiding.
Representing an employee of a major IT company accused of theft of intellectual property.
Assisting an investment fund in relation to asset recovery involving fraud by a shareholder.
The two firms work closely together on a day to day basis, ensuring both Russian and English speakers are always available to our clients in London, Moscow and St. Petersburg.
Bivonas Law is ranked by The Legal 500 for white-collar crime, financial services, civil fraud and corporate crime.
Extradition is the formal legal process in which a person is transferred from one jurisdiction to another to face criminal proceedings or to serve a sentence of imprisonment.
Our experts have represented clients arrested on extradition requests from countries such as the Russian Federation, India, Turkey, Paraguay, USA, Canada and Albania as well as many EU member countries. We have a particular expertise in cases involving human rights arguments and politically motivated requests. Our team has an extensive network of expert witnesses and local lawyers in other jurisdictions, together with excellent relationships with leading extradition Counsel. This allows us to robustly and effectively challenge extradition requests with a defence strategy tailor-made to each case.
Anthony Hanratty is recognised in Chambers and Partners 2017 for his “very knowledgeable” extradition practice and is described as an “excellent advocate” and “excellent to work with”.
Since the introduction of the Extradition Act 2003 the extradition process has been streamlined with the intention of making it easier for Governments to secure the extradition of requested persons, particularly in European Arrest Warrant cases.
Part 1 of the Extradition Act 2003 deals with territories in the European Union(read more)
and the operation of the European Arrest Warrant scheme. In European Arrest Warrant cases the extradition request is made by a ‘judicial authority’, which will be a judge or prosecutor. The request is transmitted to the National Crime Agency who ‘certify’ the warrant and send it to the relevant police force to be executed. Once a requested person is arrested on the warrant they are taken to Westminster Magistrates’ Court, which is the only court in the country which deals with extradition requests, for an initial hearing. The District Judge will consider bail at this point and set a date for an extradition hearing. At the extradition hearing the District Judge will determine whether there are any bars to extradition which would prevent the requested person being surrendered to the requesting country. Proceedings under Part 1 of the Extradition Act 2003 often move very quickly and it is becoming increasingly difficult to defeat European Arrest Warrant therefore it is vital to instruct expert representation as soon as possible.
Part 2 of the Extradition Act 2003 deals with territories which are members of the European Council, British Commonwealth jurisdictions and countries with which the UK has bi-lateral extradition agreements, such as the United States of America.(read more)
Unlike requests made under the European Arrest Scheme, extradition requests made by countries under a ‘Part 2’ warrant are made through Government channels. The extradition request is sent to the Secretary of State for the Home Department. Once certified, the request is sent to the court and an arrest warrant issued. Upon being arrested the requested person is taken to Westminster Magistrates’ Court for an initial hearing. The District Judge will determine bail and a date will be set for an extradition hearing. At the extradition hearing the District Judge will determine whether any bars to extradition exist and whether the case should be sent to the Secretary of State for the Home Department. The Secretary of State for the Home Department will then decide whether to order extradition.
Challenging extradition requests made by countries under Part 2 of the Extradition Act 2003 often involves lengthy and complex litigation which requires a specialist and in-depth knowledge of extradition law and procedure. Some countries are also required to provide evidence to show a prima facie case.
Our specialist extradition team is best placed to put forward the strongest possible challenge to extradition. We will advise whether there are any deficiencies in the European Arrest Warrant or extradition warrant which should result in the warrant or request being discharged.
Challenges to extradition include, but are not limited to:
Dual criminality – the conduct alleged in the warrant/request would not constitute an offence in the UK.
Double jeopardy – you have already been convicted/acquitted of the offences in the warrant/request.
Extraneous considerations – the warrant/request has been issued to persecute you as a result of your race, religion, gender, sexuality or political beliefs.
Passage of time – it would be unfair or oppressive to extradite you because of the time that has elapsed since the offence or conviction.
Forum – the offence should be prosecuted in the UK rather than the requesting country
The court is also required to consider whether extradition would breach your Human Rights under the European Convention on Human Rights.
Securing bail in extradition proceedings requires the preparation of a robust bail package as very often the granting of bail is rigorously opposed by the prosecution. From regular appearances before extradition judges at Westminster Magistrates’ Court our experts are extremely familiar with what conditions should be offered to the court and what evidence is required to secure bail. The main difference in extradition proceedings is that, in all but exceptional cases, the court requires a bail security to paid to the court prior to the requested person being released.
If you suspect that you may have a European Arrest Warrant or extradition request in existence you should contact our team immediately. This may remove the risk of an unplanned arrest as we can negotiate a voluntary surrender at a time to suit all parties. This would also allow a full bail package to be prepared to obtain the best possible chances of success.
However, quite often persons are unaware of existing warrants until arrest. In those circumstances we are able to effectively prepare a bail package with very short notice.
If extradition is ordered there is a very strict time period in which an application for permission to appeal can be lodged with the High Court. In Part 1 cases this is 7 days from the date extradition was ordered and in Part 2 cases it is 14 days from the date extradition is ordered by the Secretary of State for the Home Department. A High Court judge will then decide, on the strength of written arguments, whether to grant permission to appeal.
Our team has extensive experience in providing second opinions on appeal and will be able to identify any weaknesses in the District Judges’ decision or original defence strategy. Our experts have often successfully defeated extradition requests after being instructed on appeal.
Mutual Legal Assistance
Mutual Legal Assistance is the formal process in which a country requests cross-jurisdictional co-operation in criminal and international investigations.
We can advise clients of their rights and obligations under MLA arrangement and the associated interplay with the risks of extradition.
MLA requests can often involve complex areas of law and potentially significant consequences, such as restraint and freezing orders.
Through our contact network of lawyers in other jurisdictions we are able to offer a full service on cross-jurisdictional issues.
Challenging Interpol Red Notices
With over 190 members INTERPOL is the largest international policing organisation. Red Notices are issued by an individual country to seek the arrest of a person with a view to extradition. The notice is published on INTERPOL’s database and the existence of a notice can have a severe and detrimental effect on a person’s freedom. It makes it extremely difficult for a person to travel safely. Even where an extradition request has been successfully defeated, this does not mean that the Red Notice is automatically removed. Furthermore, countries such as the UAE have misused Red Notices to seek the arrest of persons for unpaid civil debts.
Our lawyers able to assist clients in challenging Red Notices that have been wrongly issued. This could be by instructing a lawyer in the country which issued the notice, through our network of contacts, to apply for the removal of the notice. Alternatively, we will engage with INTERPOL directly to make forceful submissions as to why the notice should be removed.