Res Judicata and Issue estoppel do not apply to extradition proceedings


Re: Auzins v Prosecutor General’s Office of the Republic of Latvia [2016] EWHC 802 (Admin)

The appellant challenged the decision to order his extradition to Latvia, pursuant to a European arrest warrant (EAW), to face theft charges. The EAW had been previously executed in Scotland in 2010 but discharged by the Sheriff because the appellant suffered from HIV, hepatitis, tuberculosis and peripheral neuropathy, and the evidence from Latvia was that treatment available would be insufficient and incompatible with European guidelines. Following discharge, the EAW remained live and was later re-issued when one offence became statute barred.  Four years later, it was executed in England. The appellant opposed extradition on grounds of (a) res judicata / issue estoppel / abuse of process owing to the prior Scottish decision, (b) s25 oppression owing to the appellant’s continuing ill-health and (c) s14 delay since the Scottish decision.

The court held that (a) the principle of res judicata or issue estoppel does not apply to extradition proceedings. Neither was re-execution of the EAW abusive where the facts had changed considerably since the Scottish determination, given the improvement in HIV treatment in Latvian prisons. (b) The same factual finding precluded s.25 oppression. (c) The appellant was a fugitive and neither the Scottish discharge nor his medical conditions amounted to ‘exceptional circumstances’ that would enable him to rely on delay under Kakis / Gomes.

Mark Summers QC was involved in this case.