The process of extradition is based on mutual cooperation between two jurisdictions on the basis of treaties or agreements, which can be made bilaterally or multilaterally. Extradition is a means by which countries can deal with crime transnationally and its purpose is to prevent criminals from evading justice by fleeing to another country. The Extradition Act of 2003 governs all of the UK’s current extradition procedures.
The Extradition Act divides the world into two Categories – Category 1 territories are those countries that use the European Arrest Warrant and Category 2 territories are other countries with which we have existing extradition agreements.
The fact that there is no extradition treaty between the UK and another country does not in and of itself prevent extradition – it is possible for the UK to enter into an ad hoc agreement with a country which negates the need for a formal treaty.
Once a request is received it is checked for compliance with the formal requirements by the relevant authorities (the NCA for European Arrest Warrants and the Home Office for all other requests). In the case of a European Arrest Warrant the individual will be arrestable immediately, in all other cases the Westminster Magistrates’ Court will be first asked to issue an arrest warrant.
All extradition cases in England and Wales are heard at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London and at that hearing the judge will consider whether any bars to extradition exist. The whole framework of the Extradition Act is geared up to permit speedy extradition unless specific bars to extradition apply.
Unlike some countries the UK does not refuse the extradition of its own nationals and for the majority of the UK’s regular extradition partners there is no requirement for any evidence to be brought demonstrating a prima facie case against the individual.
That being said, the Act does allow for a full defence against extradition through a combination of its incorporation of the protections of the European Convention on Human Rights and its other specific bars such as that against requests issued for extraneous considerations and the courts’ powers to avoid an abuse of process.
Extradition is a complex area of law and the process by which it takes place can be extremely quick. It is therefore crucial that anyone who is the target of an extradition request seeks legal advice as soon as possible.
Gherson has extensive experience with extradition and providing advice in relation to all possible defences to an extradition request. In particular, Gherson has unparalleled experience in handling complex cases involving politically motivated charges.
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.