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Supreme Court dismisses extradition appeal, finding the individual correctly treated as a ‘convicted’ person and not to have been disadvantaged by delay

Konecny v District Court Czech Republic [2019] UKSC 8

Related Member(s):
Mark Summers QC
Related Practice Area(s):
Extradition and Mutual Assistance
Court:

This appeal considered whether, where an individual has been convicted, but that conviction is not final because he has an unequivocal right to a retrial after surrender, he is ‘accused’ pursuant to the Extradition Act 2003, s 14(a), or ‘unlawfully at large’ pursuant to s 14(b) for the purposes of considering the ‘passage of time’ bar to surrender.

The Supreme Court unanimously dismissed the appeal.

Considering the competing authorities, the Court determined that the case law most consistent with the instant case, and which should be preferred, is that which leads to the finding of the appellant to have been correctly treated as a convicted person, rather than an accused one for the purposes of the Act.

The Court set out a number of principles to be applied by a court in this jurisdiction when seeking to characterise a case as an accusation case or a conviction case, including that, ordinarily, statements made by the requesting judicial authority in the EAW or in supplementary communications will be taken to be an accurate account of its law, and that it is not a requirement that a conviction should be final in the sense of being irrevocable for a person to be treated as convicted.

The Court held that in a conviction EAW there must be sufficient particularity for the requested person to have sufficient details of the circumstances of the underlying offences to enable him sensibly to understand what he has been convicted of and sentenced for and to enable him to consider whether any bars to extradition might apply. It considered that, in this case, there was no specific deficiency in the particulars contained in the warrant which would disadvantage the appellant if he exercises his right to a retrial.

Finally it considered the potential prejudice to the appellant of the passage of time in the consideration of the bar to extradition. This operates differently for an accusation case (where the time runs from the time of the alleged offence) as opposed to a conviction case (where it runs from the time of conviction). The Court accepted that, if it is the case that a person with a right to a retrial is correctly classified as a convicted person for the purposes of the 2003 Act, this could work to his disadvantage because the passage of time prior to his conviction is excluded from consideration. Therefore it considered that s 14 of the Act warranted amendment by Parliament. However, the Court then considered that ECHR, art 8 provided an appropriate and effective alternative means of addressing passage of time resulting in injustice or oppression. The Court concluded that, though the passage of time was a factor in the balancing exercise under art 8 mitigating against extradition, and it might have given greater weight to the delay, it could not conclude that the District Judge was not wrong to conclude that the public interest factors in favour of extradition outweighed his family and private life considerations, even when the delay was taken into account. Because the Court was satisfied that full and appropriate account was taken of the passage of time since the offences were allegedly committed, it concluded that the appellant had not been disadvantaged in any way as a result.

Mark Summers QC was involved in this case.