At present, all extradition proceedings are heard in Westminster Magistrates Court based in Central London, often many miles away from your home, work, family and friends.
The law requires that anyone served with an Extradition Arrest Warrant (EAW) must be arrested by police and brought to Westminster ‘as soon as practicable’ – in other words, without delay. The police are unlikely to allow you time to collect any property, documents or contact details that may assist your case.
You are likely to spend the night in a cell in a local police station and brought to Westminster early the next day. You may be allowed to speak to a loved one on the telephone but no visits would be allowed. In the same way, your access to a lawyer or an interpreter is likely to be restricted.
This part of the process is irreversible – only the Court at Westminster can discharge the EAW and release you. The police have no power to de-arrest you if, for any reason, the EAW is defective.
We recognise that an arrest is a very anxious time for you and your loved ones. The fear of being alone and stranded in London without knowing whether you will be released to return to your family is a daunting prospect and a traumatic experience.
Every case is different but there many areas of preparation that you can do yourself to ensure that your case is well presented at Court and to give you the best chance of success.
Your personal circumstances may be relevant to whether you will succeed in challenging extradition and/or whether the Court releases you on bail and allows you to return to your UK home until your case is decided.
Extradition is complex and it is advisable that you obtain legal representation at an early stage. We, at Olliers, pride ourselves on preparing our clients for every eventuality and the key to our success is taking a pro-active approach early and effectively.
How can I prepare for an extradition arrest?
To assist you, we have drawn up a list of documents and information that you should always have ready should you be worried about being arrested for extradition offences.
Always know your full postal address. The Court will not grant you bail without it and may suspect that you do not actually live where you say you do.
Always know your mobile phone number. The Court may make it a condition of your bail that you are always contactable by phone.
Passport or National Identity Card (current and unexpired)
The Court may grant you bail providing you hand your identification documents into the Court or a police station until the proceedings are finalised. This is to ensure that you do not leave the UK.
You may not be granted bail until your documents are handed in – this means that you will stay in prison until someone can hand the documents in on your behalf. Contacting people from prison is extremely difficult.
It is always useful to keep photocopies of these documents as you will need to hand the original copies in.
Proof of Address (tenancy agreement or mortgage statement)
The Court would consider whether you have sufficient ties/links to the UK and proof that you have lived at your address for a reasonable amount of time is helpful.
Copies of a mortgage statement or a tenancy agreement in your name will assist you in persuading the Court that you will return to your UK address and not disappear should bail be granted.
Copies of Birth Certificates of any children dependent on you
The Court will enquire whether there are young children in the family. The Court will consider how far refusing you bail or extraditing you will affect your dependents.
It is useful to be able to show the Court the birth certificates of your dependants.
Proof that your children live with you at your address – examples are medical card, child benefit letter, school documentation, council tax letter, electoral roll
Any official document to show that you are the main carer for your dependants could make it harder for the Court to refuse to grant you bail or to extradite you.
This may include your partner’s children from a previous relationship.
Medical Information affecting you or your dependants
Any official document showing that you or your dependants are in poor health will be taken into account at Court.
Examples are pregnancy, caring for elderly/infirmed parents, hospital letters, dates of any operations, ongoing need for medical treatment.
The Court will also enquire whether your dependants can be looked after in your own country if you are extradited. Your parents may both be deceased or too ill and there is no one to look after your children. Copies of death certificates or medical information from abroad may be relevant to put before the Court.
Contact Details for friends and family
The Court may grant you bail only on condition that a sum of money (‘security’) is lodged with the Court to ensure that you do not disappear.
The security can range from a few hundred pounds to many thousands depending on the issues in your case. It is most important that you can arrange for the security to be deposited by a friend or family member.
If you are able to you may wish to consider now who you can call on to help you raise a security. Court may require the names, dates of birth, addresses and the relationship to you of any persons providing the security.
Always have contact details handy and make sure your phone is adequately charged – the Court cannot help you get numbers out of your phone later on if your battery is dead. It is always useful to memorise some important some important phone numbers.
Proof of when you came to UK to show that you are not a fugitive
You may have to demonstrate that you were not aware of any court proceedings in your country and that you had come to the UK before any court proceedings against you started.
The Court will be concerned if you are a fugitive (where you left your country to avoid court proceedings that had already started or were about to start and that you knew this). Bringing proof that you are not a fugitive would greatly increase your chances of bail.
Evidence could include the flight ticket into the UK, letter granting you employment, your children’s enrolment in a school, medical card, tenancy agreement etc.
Details of your lawyer in your home country
You may need to show that you have already been tried or sentenced for the offences listed in the EAW and having these details available may allow your lawyer at Westminster to make the necessary enquiries.
Being in a position to make these enquiries at Court may affect whether you are granted bail or not.
Olliers Solicitors – Specialist Extradition Proceedings Solicitors
The above is not a complete checklist and it is always a good idea to share any concerns you have with a specialist lawyer at an early stage. Involvement of a specialist solicitor would enable enquiries to be made, on your behalf, in the UK and the country seeking extradition and could result in any actual or prospective extradition proceedings being withdrawn.
We have a specialist team of lawyers based in both Manchester and London who can provide you with expert guidance and advice. Please do not hesitate to contact Tim McArdle at our Manchester office 0161 834 1515 or Sharmila Salvi at our Soho office 020 3883 6790 who would be delighted to help.