Extradition proceedings can cause extreme stress and anxiety to both the person arrested under an extradition warrant (called in law ‘the requested person’) and their loved ones.
The specialist Extradition lawyers at Freemans Solicitors understand the difficulties associated with what can be a disconcerting and disorientating process and will use their skill to both guide you through the process and seek the best possible outcome.
Extradition to another country can result in lengthy prison sentences and potential exposure to a penalty and/or treatment that would be illegal in the UK.
If you or a friend/family member have been arrested under an Extradition warrant, it is vital to obtain expert legal advice immediately, to present the best opportunity of successfully fighting an Extradition Warrant.
In Extradition proceedings in England and Wales, unlike domestic criminal proceedings, the requested person MUST always be brought before Westminster Magistrates Court as soon as practicable under the Extradition Act 2003.
Westminster Magistrates Court is easily accessible from our main office. This means we can typically attend court at short notice and provide expert advice to deal with all the potential issues that can arise expediently and professionally.
Our specialist Extradition lawyers have dealt with a range of types of Extradition Warrants, addressing a wide range of criminal allegations including Murder, Serious Violence, Robbery, Serious Fraud, International Drugs operations and even Driving without a licence!
We deal with cases at all levels from the magistrates court through to the Supreme Court.
EXTRADITION – Frequently asked questions
What is Extradition Law?
Extradition Law was primarily formalised in the United Kingdom following the introduction of the Extradition Act in 2003 and continues to evolve through numerous subsequent amendments. In its current state, there are two main types of warrants, export and import warrants. Import warrants are issued by the UK Judicial Authority for the extradition of an individual held by a foreign state with the intent to bring that person to the UK. Our extradition solicitors can provide advice, if required, regarding the processes involved and what to expect if you are extradited to England or Wales to face Criminal Proceedings. Export extradition warrants are those issued by the foreign jurisdiction which request an individual be presented to that state/territory concerning certain types of criminal offence and sentence.
What are different types of export Extradition Warrant?
These warrants are requests by foreign territories for the Extradition of an individual from the UK to that jurisdiction. There are 3 types of Export Extradition Warrant which arise, and they are based on the state/territory that seeks a person’s extradition: Category 1 Territories, Category 2 Territories and Non-Category 1 and 2 territories
- Category 1 territories are requests from EU states (and arise from the UK’s decision to implement the European Arrest Warrant Framework Decision);
- Category 2 territories are states that the UK has ongoing arrangements with and include Switzerland, Norway, US, Canada, Australia and many more; and
- Non-Category 1 and 2 territories where there is no formal agreement between the UK and that state.
What is the General Extradition Process?
An extradition warrant must be issued by an authority designated by order of the Secretary of State of the Home Office of the United Kingdom. The warrant must contain specific information including the requested person’s identity, an outline of the offences the requested person has either alleged or been convicted of committing, the time and place of the alleged/convicted offending behaviour and either the sentence ordered or the potential sentence that person could face in the requesting territory. Following your arrest for Extradition offences you should be served with the warrant as soon as practicable, and then brought before an appropriate Judge, as soon as practicable. Failure to comply with these processes can lead to the discharge of the extradition warrant, and therefore we recommend you contact a specialist extradition solicitor immediately if you have any queries regarding these points.
What if I am arrested, and there is no Extradition Warrant?
In exceptional circumstances, a person may be arrested without a warrant, if the arresting officer has reasonable grounds for believing an appropriate authority from a category 1 territory has issued a warrant in the name of that person. In these circumstances, a person has to be brought before a court within 48 hours, or the warrant can be discharged.
What should you expect at the First Extradition Hearing?
Following your arrest, you will be brought to Westminster Magistrates Court where your First Appearance Hearing will take place. It is at this hearing a decision needs to be made by the requested person to consent to their Extradition or if they will challenge the decision to extradite them. To challenge the decision to extradite, the requested person should raise bars to their extradition, and these bars are founded in the Extradition Act 2003, the European Convention of Human Rights and Case Law.
Before the First Hearing the requested person should either appoint or be provided with a Solicitor, and this will usually be the requested person’s first opportunity to speak with an Extradition Lawyer. During the consultation with their lawyer, the issues outlined above will be raised as well as advice regarding the bars to extradition. Extradition proceedings cannot be opened if the requested person is the subject of ongoing domestic criminal proceedings against them, or if they are subject to a domestic sentence.
At the first hearing, the requested person will either consent to extradition, in which case they will have no right to appeal their extradition, or not consent when they will be asked to identify bars to their Extradition. This would generally involve outlining specific arguments, the potential need to instruct experts or obtain further information, the time it will likely take to obtain expert reports and the length of Court time a Full Hearing will require. This will also be the first chance to apply for bail,
It is recommended that to give yourself the best opportunity to highlight potential successful arguments against extradition and to seek bail it is advisable to get the advice of an expert Extradition Lawyer immediately.
What are the common bars to extradition?
Successfully arguing bars to extradition in a case will lead to the warrant being discharged. Below are some of the main bars:
- double jeopardy;
- passage of time since the alleged offending behaviour;
- the requested persons age;
- Physical and Mental Health issues;
- a requesting state bringing further proceedings outside the “speciality” rules;
- speciality principles that prevent extradition of those already extradited into the UK;
- extraneous considerations: allegations motivated by political considerations;
- Prison conditions in the requesting state being deemed inhumane; and
- an individual’s right to a family life in the UK.
Will I be granted bail?
The requested person can make a bail application, and the court must consider a number of factors including if the requested person
- presents a significant risk of failing to attend court;
- was aware of proceedings against them by the judicial authority
- is a fugitive
- Faces an accusation or conviction warrant.
If granted bail, strict bail conditions will normally be put in place, which may include: residence, monitored curfew; signing on at a local police station; surrender of and ban from applying for international travel documents; and security in the form of money being lodged with the court to ensure an individual’s surrender.
What Directions might the court make at the first hearing?
The court will make directions during the First Hearing and this will include notifying the court and the prosecution of the evidence you will submit relating to your case, any witnesses you wish to call and their evidence and an outline of the arguments and law you will seek to rely upon when your case is listed for a full hearing. The court has indicated in recent decisions an unwillingness to extend time to serve documents which they have ordered be served at the first hearing. In order to provide yourself with the best opportunity of success, it is highly advisable that you instruct an Extradition Lawyer immediately if you haven’t already done so, to ensure all the time limits are adhered to, and the best possible arguments can be presented to the court on your behalf.
What happens at the Extradition Full Hearing?
During the full hearing, the Judicial Authority will present their information, including all the evidence they seek to rely upon to ensure the requested person's extradition. Your lawyer can then present your case. This is likely to include calling evidence from you, any witnesses in support of your case and any expert evidence relied upon. Following this, submissions are presented to the Judge regarding your extradition to the requesting territory.
Can I appeal a decision on extradition made by Westminster Magistrates Court?
Yes. However, there you are stringent time limits within which the appeal must be lodged, including all appropriate paperwork, with the High Court (Administrative Court dealing with Extradition Appeals). You have 7 days from the date the judgment in your case is handed down by Westminster Magistrates Court. There are a number of items that are required by the High Court prior to the Appeal being issued, and therefore it is highly advisable that you seek legal advice regarding this process to ensure your appeal is lodged correctly. Problems with the appeal being filed out of time can lead to the High Court not issuing the appeal within the requisite time period, and this will ultimately result in the requested person being removed from the UK to the requesting territory.
How can we help?
If you need help with an extradition case, please contact Karol Hart or Deborah Hogg, to discuss your case in confidence, always remembering that early advice is crucial for the best possible outcome.