George Hepburne Scott wins on three successive days at the Extradition Court

On Wednesday 24 January before Sir Wyn Williams sitting as a High Court Judge - George wins an Extradition Appeal (Polish case), (ii) On 25 January before District Judge Baraitser, George objected to the Requesting Authority's application to adjourn and the Judge agreed and forced the Requesting Authority to go ahead and the Defendant was discharged and released (Romanian case), (iii) On 26 January before District Judge  Goldspring, client was released having been discharged following successful opposition to the Polish extradition request.

Event: George Hepburne Scott, Barrister and Principal of UK Extradition Lawyer, has been invited to lecture at the 2018 International Extradition Conference to be held in Sarnico, Italy in June 2018

George will join an panel of globally renowned academics and practitioners and deliver a lecture based on his article published on New Law Journal (Lexus Nexus UK) published in July 2017.

The lecture will focus on recent developments in the law surrounding s.2 of the Extradition Act 2003 since the landmark case of Palar v Court of First Instance, Brussels where George appeared as counsel for the requested person and set a precedent regarding the level of detail required to satisfy s.2 in accusation EAW's that has been developed and refined ever since.

Details of the lecture have also been published on the International Extradition Portal and can be viewed here.

'Houdini is nothing compared to you'

The quote of a client M.F. whose Appeal was finally granted by Consent Order from the Administrative Court on 1 December 2017.


M.F.'s extradition was originally ordered by the Westminster Magistrates' Court on 10 November 16, then his initial appeal was refused by the High Court on 24 January 17 and then refused again at an Oral Renewal Hearing 16 February 17.


However on 3 March 17 George successfully applied to stay the extradition pending the outcome of the Romanian Article 3 appeals (Greku & Ors v Romania). This stay was lifted after the initial hearing in Grekutended to go against usand the Appellants' extradition was scheduled for 12 April 17. However, on 11 April 17, George applied again for a stay of extradition and this was again granted by the High Court.


This led to months of legal argument and ultimately, the Respondent Judicial Authority (Romania) conceded defeat on Article 3 grounds and, on 1 December 2017, the High Court sealed a Consent Order quashing the Extradition Order of 10 November 2016 and ordering the Appellant's discharge.


This led to the client's genuine quote: 'Houdini is nothing compared to you'

We will continue to always ruthlessly advance our client's rights.

More Success for George Hepburne-Scott in High Court Extradition Appeal

On 25th October 2017, having heard submissions from George Hepburne-Scott, Sir Wyn Williams quashed the Extradition Order in the case of M.M. v Poland (CO/1782/2017) and the Appellant was discharged. She will not now be returned to Poland to serve the remainder of her sentence for Attempted Murder. George successfully argued that to return her would constitute a disproportionate interference with her and her young children's Article 8 rights. The Court agreed.

George Hepburne-Scott commented: "We will always ruthlessly advance the cases of our clients and secure the best possible results in all cases. We are totally committed to our clients and will advance all possible legal arguments whilst continuing to act to the highest possible ethical and professional standards."

The Most High Profile Extradition Case of 2017

3 High Court Successes in a Row

George Hepburne Scott wins three High Court Extradition Appeals in a row:

 

1. Vidmantas Michelebertas v Republic of Lithuania - This was a case involving a Robbery conviction from Lithuania. Following successful legal arguments from George Hebpurne Scott, the High Court upheld the appeal and the Appellant was released.

2. Marek Jaworski v Poland – This was a case involving an allegation of £multi-million fraud. The High Court discharged the Appellant following successful legal argument from George on s.2, s.14, s.21 of the Extradition Act 2003 and Article 8 of the ECHR.

3. Roman Kolodziejczyk v Poland – This was a case involving a conviction for Murder. FollowingGeorge’s successful legal argument surrounding Article 13 of the European Council Framework Decision the Appeal was allowed and the Appellant released.

The Dawn of the New Era in Extradition Law

Published on the 11th of August 2017 on the New Law Journal (www.newlawjournal.co.uk), leading on debate, litigation and dispute resolution.

Read the full article below or click on the full screen on the embedded PDF journal copy to enjoy it fully.

On 23 June 2017, the Divisional Court handed down judgment in Alexander v Public Prosecutor’s Office, Marseille District Court of First Instance, France; Benedetto v Court of Palermo, Italy [2017] EWHC 1392 (Admin), [2017] All ER (D) 76 (Jun).Up until this decision one of the most powerful arguments against any extradition was that the requesting state had failed to properly set out the conduct alleged on the part of the requested person that formed the basis of the extradition request (the s 2 argument). The Alexander decision massively expands any requesting states’ ability to ‘patch-up’ any inadequate extradition warrant with further information. This has arguably removed a very powerful protection of citizens facing extradition within the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) area.

Background

With the advent of the Extradition Act 2003 (EA 2003), for the first time, Parliament provided for extradition from the UK to other countries where no evidence of crime was produced. In other words, EA 2003 scrapped the ancient requirement that foreign states must produce at least ‘a case to answer’ in order to properly apply for extradition. The sole essential requirement of an EAW was that the requesting state prove that the requested person was accused of or had been convicted of an extradition crime (in practice any crime other than speeding etc). The only possible requirement to set out a ‘case to answer’ came in s 2(4)(c) under which the requesting state has to provide: ‘Particulars of the circumstances in which the person is alleged to have committed the offence, including the conduct alleged to constitute the offence, the time and place at which he is alleged to have committed the offence…’

A ‘case to answer’ requirement by the ‘back-door’?

In testing the new legislation English judges tended to favour a slightly more conservative approach to the lack of a need for the requesting state to produce a ‘case to answer’. The first real test came in the leading Divisional Court case of Palar v Court of First Instance Brussels [2004] All ER (D) 185 (Apr).

In Palar, I successfully argued that s 2(4)(c) of the Act required that, in order to be valid, an EAW must contain a high degree of detail in terms of the allegation that formed the basis of the EAW request.

Palar provided the foundation for a line of authority leading up to the Supreme Court case of Dabas v High Court of Justice, Madrid [2007] 2 AC 31, where Palar was cited with approval and used to enshrine the fundamental principle that a failure of the requesting state to sufficiently particularise the conduct alleged would invalidate the EAW. This principle was further re-enforced in Lord Hope’s celebrated speech in the case of King’s Prosecutor, Brussels v Cando Armas [2006] 2 AC 1.

This was thought by practitioners to be settled law and led to the successful challenge of many EAW’s on the basis of invalidity flowing from insufficient particularisation (the s 2 arguments). The Palar Principle was used through Dabas and Cando Armas and right up to and including the leading case of Assange v Swedish Prosecution Authority [2012] UKSC 22 as support for the proposition that while the requesting state did not have to formally produce evidence of a case to answer, it certainly had to produce a high degree of detail in terms of what the evidence of the alleged conduct was.

In terms of the political dimension, this line of authority served to potentially undermine the entire EAW scheme. The English courts were freely striking out extradition requests on the basis that the allegations were not set out in enough detail.

The EU fightback

Following Assange, and perhaps facing political pressure from within the EU, on 1 December 2014, the UK opted back into the European Council (EAW) Framework Decision no 2002/584/JHA (the EAW Framework Decision).

Opting back in to the EAW Framework Decision was a political decision taken at cabinet level. It created a sea-change in the interpretation of EA 2003, as from then on the English courts were compelled to interpret EA 2003 consistently with the EAW Framework Decision. Therefore, the EAW Framework Decision itself and all the case-law from the European Court of Justice (ECJ) regarding it had direct effect on the English courts. Thereafter the s 2 requirements had to be interpreted through Art 8 of the EAW Framework Decision and the ECJ jurisprudence flowing therefrom.

Unsurprisingly, the case law from the ECJ was heavily in favour of speeding up and streamlining the EAW processes. On one view this was a further facet of the development of the European super-state. Using the principles of mutual trust and recognition enshrined in the EU Treaties, the ECJ was and is continually pushing for the creation of one common area where the courts, in executing EAW requests, are treated as one unit serving the EU.

This in turn strongly undermined the English courts’ ability to thwart extradition requests via the ‘interpretive’ s 2 method. Dabas and Cando Armas had been dealt a fatal blow and the number of EAW requests exploded.

The number of EAW requests to the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) went up from 5,522 to 12,613 between 2013 and 2015 (source NCA); an increase of over 100%.

The art 15 procedure

Such was the clamour in EU member states to make extradition requests from the UK that EAW’s began to have less and less information contained within them. A practice developed whereby requesting states would issue EAW’s with minimal information on the basis that there was mounting pressure on the English courts to ‘rubber-stamp’ the requests and order extradition. In keeping with this practice, requesting states were given an increasing ability to provide further information in the course of proceedings to deal with objections from the defence legal teams. This ability flowed from Art 15 of the EAW Framework Decision.

Essentially EAW’s that were invalid due to inadequate particulars were allowed to be ‘validated’ by the provision of further supplemental information by the requesting state under the Art 15 procedure.

The ability of practitioners to mount successful s 2 challenges was becoming frequently curtailed by Art 15 ‘requests for further information. Such requests became the norm.

The death of Dabas & Cando Armas

However, the difficulty was that the Supreme Court authorities of Dabas and Cando Armas still appeared to be good law and practitioners in the English court continued to mount s 2 arguments to block the ever-increasing number of extradition requests. This apparent contradiction came to a head in the recent Supreme Court case of Goluchowski v District Court in Elblag [2016] 1 WLR 2665, which applied the ECJ case of Bob-Dogi [2016] WLR 4583. Goluchowski and Bob-Dogi in effect recognised the ability of the requesting state to ‘patch-up’ inadequate EAWs with the provision of further information during the course of extradition proceedings.

The judgment of the Supreme Court in Goluchowski effectively over-ruled the authorities of Dabas and Cando Armas in relation to future s 2 arguments. In other words, any EAW that was apparently invalid by virtue of providing inadequate particulars of conduct was no longer to be deemed invalid under s 2 because it could become valid through the provision of further information by virtue of Art 15. This has led some commentators to describe the validity of the EAW’s as being able to be in a ‘transient state’ in terms of validity.

In fact, Irwin LJ, in Alexander went as far as to state the following: “[73]. …the previous approach to the requirements of an EAW and the role of further information must be taken to no longer apply. The formality of Lord Hope’s approach in Cando Armas, based on the wording of the Act, has not survived. It is clearly open to a requesting judicial authority to add missing information to a deficient EAW so as to establish the validity of a warrant.”

“[74] …The effect of two recent decisions is, we conclude, that missing required matters may be supplied by way of further information and so provide a lawful basis for extradition.”

Brexit & the future of s 2 arguments

Clearly Brexit throws not just future s 2 arguments but also the entire EAW scheme into question for the UK. It is beyond the scope of this article to hypothesise about our future extradition relationship with the EU following Brexit.

However, it is worth noting that the ever-increasing political and legal integration with the EU, as exemplified by the expanding application of the EAW scheme, may have given more voice to those who favour Brexit. NLJ

George Hepburne Scott, extradition barrister, Church Court Chambers, www.ukextraditionlawyer.com