Are You Facing Extradition Proceedings In The UK? Here’s What You Must Know Before Instructing A Solicitor.
If you have become a Requested Person in extradition proceedings in the UK your arrest and first appearance in court were likely a stressful, foreign and intimidating experience. Every year many individuals are arrested and subjected to extradition proceedings in this country. Many are detained when crossing the border but, equally, others are arrested unexpectedly, having spent many years in the UK, residing and working legally and unaware that they are sought after by foreign authorities. Regardless of the exact circumstances, the suddenness of the arrest and the seriousness of the proceedings will give rise to numerous questions about your legal position, your rights, the extradition process and the consequences to you and your relatives.
Lawyers at Hodge Jones and Allen have developed expertise in representing many vulnerable clients in extradition proceedings against them. Below, we have addressed the most common questions regarding this complex and little-known process.
What does the process of extradition proceedings look like and do I need a solicitor?
Extradition is the process via which a country can request an individual to be brought to its jurisdiction for criminal proceedings. A country can request your extradition so that either you can be put on a trial or serve a custodial sentence that was previously imposed against you.
Each extradition process starts with a formal request from the requesting country which allows the police to arrest you and bring you to Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London. Before the court hearing, you will receive advice from your own solicitor or a duty solicitor at Court. Duty solicitors are independent lawyers, their initial consultation and representation on the day are confidential and free of charge. The solicitor will discuss the contents of your arrest warrant and your personal circumstances. You will be advised that you may either consent to the extradition request or wish to challenge it at a hearing on another date. You will be also advised about the possibility of applying for bail.
At the hearing, if you consent to extradition, the appropriate arrangements will be made to take you to the requesting country, usually within ten days. If you choose to oppose the extradition, the court will issue a set of directions (deadlines) for the case and set an extradition hearing date. The court will also decide whether you can await your extradition hearing on bail or you will remain in custody until such date. If you are granted bail, it will likely be subject to some conditions, such as the surrender of travel documents and an electronically monitored curfew.
Following the first hearing, your solicitors and you will work closely to prepare your case for the final hearing date. Your solicitor will instruct a barrister who will form a part of your legal team. The barrister will represent you at subsequent hearings and the extradition hearing.
If you cannot afford to pay privately for a solicitor, they will assist you in applying for legal aid which is the UK government scheme for the provision of free legal advice and representation. To prove your eligibility, you will have to provide details of your financial circumstances. Once funding is granted, if you don’t speak English your solicitor can instruct an interpreter to assist during your meetings discussing the case.
On what basis can I oppose my extradition proceedings? What if am not guilty/ falsely accused of a crime in another country?
Regrettably, being not guilty of the offence in the requesting state is, on its own, not a valid legal argument to oppose an extradition request from most countries. However, there are other bases you can rely on, which can be loosely divided into two categories: technical/legal and human rights reasons.
The technical reasons include a wide range of legal arguments such as, that the extradition request or warrant is not valid, that it would be “unjust” or “oppressive” due to the length of time that has passed. Notably, it is a valid defence to an extradition request if the offence for which extradition is sought is not a criminal offence in the UK. For example, in some European countries failure to pay child maintenance is a criminal offence but there is no equivalent offence in UK law.
Secondly, you can attempt to oppose extradition proceedings based on human rights arguments, such as the fact that removing you to the requesting state would amount to inhuman and degrading treatment (Article 3 ECHR), interfere with your right to a fair trial (Article 6 ECHR) or your right to private and family life (Article 8 ECHR). The court may also consider your physical or mental condition if they are such that it would make it unjust or oppressive to extradite you.
Do I have to inform my employer or landlord that I am subject to ongoing extradition proceedings?
There is no legal obligation to notify anybody of the extradition proceedings against you. However, for practical reasons, sometimes, it may be necessary. For instance, if you have been released on conditional bail, your curfew times may interfere with your working hours or you may need to request time off work to attend meetings with your legal team, expert assessments or court hearings. It is your decision how much information you wish to divulge to others to meet these conditions.
If I lose my extradition proceeding at the magistrate court, can I appeal that decision?
If you lose your proceedings and are due to be extradited, you are entitled to apply for permission to appeal to the High Court. However, an appeal can only be lodged if your lawyers advise you there are grounds to appeal, and so you must consult your legal team as soon as possible after receiving the judgement.
You will have 7 days to file an appeal notice with the court. Once filed, you will then have to wait for permission to appeal and the court may take many months to issue a decision.
Similarly, if you win your extradition proceedings, the prosecution can attempt to appeal the judgment at the High Court.
How quickly will I be extradited if I lose my extradition proceeding at the magistrate court and cannot or choose not to appeal?
The exact number of days will depend on the category of the requesting state. The extradition to EU states is usually arranged within 10 days. For non-EU states, it is likely to take up to 28 days. However, there have recently been delays with this and it may take considerably longer time.
Facing extradition proceedings can be overwhelming and intimidating but our Criminal Defence team will be happy to provide legal advice which is specific to your circumstances. Remember that each case will differ on its facts and the above guide must not be construed as legal advice. If you wish to talk through your needs please call us today on 0808 252 5231 or request a call back at your convenience.