To Leave or to Stay?

Written 6th May 2016 by Olliers Solicitors

Matt Corn, Specialist Criminal Defence Lawyer considers the EU Referendum in the context of Criminal Justice System

I, like many people, remain undecided which way I will vote in the EU referendum on 23 June. The debate is live on many issues but for those of us who work within criminal justice our own Justice Secretary is one of the chief advocates of the “Leave” campaign, yet he is a close political ally of the Prime Minister.

The Leave Camp

In general terms the Leave camp argues that  being in the EU makes it easier for terrorists to come to the UK due to the freedom of movement afforded to EU members. They also criticise the supremacy of EU Courts who can reverse decisions and rulings of the UK Courts.

One controversial court is the European Court of Human Rights who can and does reverse decisions made by the UK if they are deemed to be “not compatible” with the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). ECHR decisions have included subjects such as prisoner voting rights and the deportation of terrorist suspects.

It is unclear how a departure from the EU would affect the ECHR. The Home Secretary this week has  apparently suggested that the UK could leave the ECHR but remain in the EU. The human rights minister wants to leave the EU and remain in the ECHR. Mr Gove has said that the Government does not propose to the leave the ECHR.

The Stay Camp

The Stay camp argues that being in the EU enables better sharing of intelligence between member states. There are also European arrest warrants which have enabled wanted suspects to be detained and extradited back to the UK.

The day to day  criminal justice system as we practitioners know it is rarely affected by the EU directly. An application for leave to appeal against a conviction in the crown court for example can be lodged with the Court of Appeal. A decision of the Court of Appeal may in certain cases be further appealed to the Supreme Court (formerly the House of Lords). In rarer cases still and only where all other avenues have been exhausted in the UK may an application be made to the European Court of Justice.

Should we Stay or Go?

The debate will go but it appears that even those involved in the decision making process of criminal justice are not united on whether we should stay or go.  I remain undecided…..

Matt Corn – Specialist Criminal Defence Solicitor

Written by Matt Corn. Matt is a criminal defence solicitor specialsing in the defence of serious crime. He has dealt with a number of complex proceeds of crime confiscation matters and has appeared in high profile cases involving fraud, drugs importation conspiracies and terrorism.

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