If you have a pending criminal case or are wanted for a criminal offence in another jurisdiction, outside of England and Wales, that country can issue an extradition warrant for your arrest for you to be sent back to that requesting country. European arrest warrants are usually executed by the NCA (National Crime Agency). The wanted person is arrested and detained at a local police station and then transported to Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London, the only Court in England and Wales that deals with extradition matters. The police have a duty to get you to Court the next available working day for the purposes of the warrant to be executed and the case listed.
It is at this point that the Court will make a decision on whether you are to be detained until a decision has been made regarding your removal to the country that is requesting your return, or if you are to be granted bail with possible restrictions on your liberty. This is done by way of an application to the Court for you to be released.
Extradition proceedings can be very difficult for clients and their families. In some cases the warrant could have been issued years after the wanted person has returned or travelled to this country. Their circumstances could now be extremely different with the possibility of an established family life. It is therefore vital to have a specialist lawyer by your side at every stage of the proceedings. Nicholls & Nicholls have actively assisted foreign nationals and British citizens who are subject to these types of proceedings, even using experts abroad where necessary.
The extradition process requires a human element to the representation of the person subject to the warrant. This is because a litigator needs to be aware of the very relevant Articles found in the European Charter of Human Rights (ECHR). Often a legal argument submitted to the Court to stop the person from being extradited is based on Human Rights Articles such as Article 8, Article 6 and Article 3.
There are occasions where the warrant itself is incorrect or requesting the wrong person. Nicholls & Nicholls start at the very beginning of any extradition process and ensure the legislation and the procedures have been followed correctly. The difference between criminal and extradition proceedings is that failures in the process can have a huge impact and stop the matter from going any further. This is why it is so important to have a lawyer who specialises in this area to represent you. We have those specialist lawyers.
Another familiar submission that can prove challenging, is that the individual may not be treated fairly in the requested country. We consider the current climate and prison conditions in the requesting country and also source local experts and enforcement officers to provide evidence and reports detailing the issues. We can then use this to form legal arguments demonstrating that removal from England and Wales would be against your human rights.
Although the most common extradition warrants are linked to European countries, it is not uncommon to find cases relating to Australia, the United States of America, Canada and Russia. Each extradition request has to go through a system of procedures and authorisations before it reaches the Courts and a circulation for arrest is undertaken.
The case of Julian Assange filled media outlets with considerable interest over the last few years. Here the added complication is the link with Ecuador as Assange attended their embassy in London utilising his previous citizenship which has since been revoked.
What is also important and requires consideration is the recognition of the law in the country requesting the extradition. There are times when persons are requested to return to a country for an offence that is not recognised in this jurisdiction. Nicholls & Nicholls undertake the research and analysis of these sorts of complexities to ensure every legal submission put forward by the Country, can be rebutted with strength and the correct expertise.
Unfortunately, there are limited grounds for opposing an extradition order. Here at Nicholls & Nicholls, we do not give up at the first instance. We explore all avenues available and often appeal the decision from the lower court to the High Court to assist our clients.
Nicholls & Nicholls can assist with any extradition proceedings, whether you wish to oppose extradition, or wish for assistance in complying with an extradition order whilst in custody. Our team is multicultural and speaks numerous different languages. This provides us with an advantage in advancing our client’s interests during conferences and increasing the ease of preparation of the case. We have also assisted those in need on a legal aid basis when eligible, but primarily work with private fixed fee agreements.
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