The Extradition (Provisional Arrest) Bill received Royal Assent on 22 October 2020. See here for previous blogs charting its passage: Extradition (Provisional) Arrest Bill: a sticking plaster & Extradition (Provisional) Arrest Bill: Second Reading.
The Act creates a new power of arrest to enable the arrest of individuals for serious offences as requested by “trusted countries” without first seeking a warrant from a UK court. Trusted countries are currently: Australia, Canada, Liechtenstein, New Zealand, Switzerland and the USA. These are countries which the Government has said the UK has a “high level of confidence in as extradition partners, in their criminal justice systems, and in their use of extradition”.
The Act will allow for further countries to be added to this list and indeed in recent amendments, the 27 EU Member States and Norway and Iceland were added to the list of countries at Schedule A1 with a proviso that they will be removed from the schedule at the end of 2021 if the provision inserting them has not been brought into force by that time. Comments in the House of Lords on 14 October 2020 expressed frustration that the Government had not been more transparent at an earlier stage that this legislation was indeed intended to go some way to addressing an EAW shaped gap arising from the UK’s departure from the European Union (see also our article of November 2019).
It seems to be, as Lord Paddick noted, “at least a partial replacement for the EAW, in that it restores arrests without warrant in the UK for those wanted by EU countries—a power that will be lost, along with the rest of the European arrest warrant regime, at the end of the transition period”. As mentioned in earlier blogs, there is no obligation on EU countries to reciprocate.
The Act will of course make a practical difference in respect of a small number of cases involving the 5 trusted partners (Government Impact Assessment suggested 6 cases per year). However, it remains a small sticking plaster against the loss of the EAW for extradition proceedings involving the EU member states. We look to the negotiations for hope in that respect.
For further information on the issues raised in this blog post, please contact a member of our criminal litigation team.
About the author
Áine Kervick is an associate in our Criminal Litigation team. She has a particular interest in the international dimension of criminal cases and advises individuals in respect of extradition requests. She is also experienced in acting for individuals in internal investigations with a focus on legal professional privilege in criminal investigations and has written a number of articles on the subject.