In 2016, the UK issued two European arrest warrants (‘EAWs’) in respect of against an individual for the purposes of conducting prosecutions of the offences of murder, arson and rape. The requested person was arrested in Ireland on the basis of these arrest warrants and has been in custody since 3 February 2016. The requested person raised objections to his surrender to the UK on the basis, amongst other things, of issues related to the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.
The High Court (Ireland) referred a question to the Court of Justice of the EU whether, in light of the UK on 29 March 2017 having given notice of its intention to withdraw from the EU, and the uncertainty as to the arrangements which will be put in place after the UK’s withdrawal, it is required to decline to surrender to the UK a person subject to a EAW.
The Advocate General, Maciej Szpunar issued his opinion on the question today, 8 August 2018.
In short he states that the Article 50 notification by the UK has no impact on the case in question.
The EAW system should continue to apply and operate for as long as the UK remains a Member State and there is no reason not to execute the EAW. He notes that the UK has indicated an intention to withdraw from the EU and not to abandon the rule of law or protection of human rights pursuant to the European Convention on Human Rights and therefore there is no reason to question the UK’s continued commitment to fundamental rights and no reason to refuse to surrender the requested person to the UK.
The Advocate General’s Opinion is not binding on the Court of Justice. It is the role of the Advocates General to propose to the Court, in complete independence, a legal solution to the cases for which they are responsible. The Judges of the Court are now beginning their deliberations in this case. Judgment will be given at a later date. Even though the Opinion does not bind the Court it has an impact on the decision in many cases, and in fact, in most cases the ECJ follows it.
The Opinion is not entirely surprising but is important as it brings a degree of certainty as to the current position. Gherson continue to monitor the UK’s negotiations with the EU regarding the UK’s future extradition arrangements. If you would like to discuss any aspect of extradition to and from the UK please don’t hesitate to contact a member of our team.
The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Gherson accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please don’t hesitate to contact Gherson. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Gherson.