Abuse of process in Extradition cases
Criminal lawyers will be familiar with the term ‘Abuse of process’. To those unfamiliar with it, it is a situation where there is something so wrong and so unfair with a case that it should not be allowed to go ahead. It is not found in any legislation, and it doesn’t appear in the Extradition Act. However, the Courts in this country have decided that it is something that can be used in extradition proceedings, although it is not something that is used very often.
Acting ‘in good faith’
When considering whether or not something amounts to an abuse of process, the Judge hearing the case starts with an assumption that whichever country is asking for extradition is acting ‘in good faith’. It can be very difficult to prove otherwise, even where there is an obvious mistake or evidence is clearly missing from the warrant.
Zakrzewski sets out the circumstances in which an abuse argument will be permitted
We recently dealt with a case where extradition was asked for in a case where the sentence imposed was said to be one of over 5 years. The warrant had details of the offence and the sentence that was passed, and everything seemed to be in order. However, it became clear that there were other offences involved that were not listed in the warrant, as they should be. The reason the sentence was as long as it was, was because the client had been recalled on licence for other more serious offences. The sentence for the offence in the warrant was actually only 6 months. The authorities in the requesting country confirmed that this was correct, but the District Judge decided that even though the warrant was clearly missing information, she had to assume it was correct. We argued that this was an abuse of process. Although the District Judge decided it was not, we were given permission to appeal in the High Court. Before the appeal could be heard, the warrant was withdrawn and a new warrant issued containing all of the information needed.
By the time the new warrant came to court, our client’s position had changed somewhat and there were fresh arguments to put forward. The case is still going on, well over two years after he was first arrested.
Please contact us on 0207 388 1658, or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to discuss your extradition matter with us further, or to find out whether you would be eligible for legal aid for extradition matters. We have a dedicated team of lawyers specialising in extradition who are here to help you.
John Howey, Senior Solicitor