What happens when your client is wanted on a European Arrest Warrant?
If you are contacted by a client who suspects that there is a European Arrest Warrant issued for their arrest, that person can contact the National Crime Agency to confirm this and arrange a surrender to their local police station. If a client knows that there is a European Arrest Warrant in their name (or a warrant from a Part II country outside the EU) it is often advisable for that person to surrender to their local police station or to Westminster Magistrates Court, as this will greatly increase their chances of being granted bail later on.
Practical steps that clients can take to help themselves
If their passport or ID card has not been seized, they should try to have it brought to the police station. It will need to be surrendered if the client is to be granted bail, and only if the police can confirm they have it; it will save time later on. Steps should be taken to put a security in place. In extradition proceedings, it is incredibly rare for someone to be granted bail without a security being paid into Westminster Magistrates (a surety usually isn’t sufficient, either).
Following arrest, the client must be taken to Westminster Magistrates’ Court “as soon as practicable”. In practice that means the same day if they are arrested very early in the morning, or they live near London. If not, it is likely to be the next day. Westminster is the only Magistrates Court in the country that deals with extradition cases. There have been occasions when a client has been charged with an offence in this country, remanded to appear at their local magistrate’s court and only after they have appeared there are they brought to Westminster. That is not ‘as soon as practicable’; they have to be brought to Westminster first. If they are not, then the extradition proceedings are likely to be discharged. If they also face criminal proceedings in this country, the extradition case will then be put on hold until the criminal case has finished.
At Westminster Magistrates’ Court, a copy of the warrant, arrest statement and PNC will be provided by the Crown Prosecution Service. The arrest statement should state when your client has been arrested and when he or she was given a copy of the warrant. The District Judge at Westminster Magistrates’ Court will have to be satisfied that your client is the person identified in the warrant, and that he has been taken to court and provided with a copy of the warrant as soon as practicable. If the Judge is satisfied with these preliminary issues, then consent to extradition will be put to your client.
If your client wishes to consent to the request for their extradition, then this has to be given in writing. The legal advisor will prepare this form for your client to sign. If your client wants to resist extradition, then the issues or bars to extradition will need to be identified. The Judge will then conduct a case management and set a date for the full hearing.
A bail application will then be heard. This application can be heard regardless of whether your client consents to extradition or not. There is a presumption in favour of bail if your client is wanted for trial (known as an “accusation warrant”). There is no presumption in favour of bail if your client is wanted to serve a sentence (known as a “conviction warrant”). However, most Judges will be minded to grant conditional bail so long as a substantial security is available.
The Judge will most likely make a direction that legal aid is applied for within 7 days. All persons arrested in extradition proceedings will pass the ‘merits’ test. They are subjected to the same ‘means’ test that is carried out when you apply for legal aid in the Magistrates’ Court.
John Howey, Senior Solicitor