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.
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.
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 and the operation of the European Arrest Warrant scheme.
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.
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
A Red Notice is a request to law enforcement worldwide to locate and provisionally arrest a person pending extradition, surrender, or similar legal action.
It contains two main types of information:
- Information to identify the wanted person, such as their name, date of birth, nationality, hair and eye colour, photographs and fingerprints if available;
- Information related to the crime they are wanted for, which is typically a serious financial offence such as Fraud or Money Laundering.
Red Notices are published by INTERPOL at the request of a member country and must comply with INTERPOL’s Constitution and Rules. A Red Notice is not an international arrest warrant.
With over 190 members, INTERPOL is the largest international policing organisation. Member countries often obtain a Red Notice at the same time as making an application for an international arrest warrant in extradition proceedings. In this way they broaden the remit of their investigation and prevent suspects from fleeing to a different jurisdiction. 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.
Our lawyers are 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, or through our network of contacts, applying for the removal of the notice. Alternatively, we can engage with INTERPOL directly to make forceful submissions as to why the notice should be removed. Countries frequently obtain a Red Notice against individuals and use it quite illegitimately as leverage in civil litigation. Bivonas Law has successfully applied to Interpol for the removal of a Red Notice against a senior banking official in such circumstances. It should also be borne in mind that even where an application for extradition has been successfully opposed a Red Notice may still be registered against the name of a suspect. In such circumstances it is imperative to have the notice removed as it is now obsolete. Bivonas Law has successfully achieved this in a number of cases.