The European Arrest Warrant (EAW)
The European Arrest Warrant scheme or EAW is based upon the Council Framework Decision 2002/584/JHA of 13 June 2002 on the European arrest warrant and the surrender procedures between the Member States.
The overarching principle is that all the signatory countries (almost the entire E.U.) can be presumed to respect the European Convention on Human Rights and to maintain a professional criminal justice system which operates free from political interference.
This presumption means that the judicial authority in the state requesting extradition can be trusted to only make requests when there is a proper legal foundation for doing so. In other words, requests will only be made where the person sought is wanted to stand trial in relation to conduct which is mutually recognised as constituting significant criminal conduct, or, having been convicted of such conduct, an enforceable prison sentence remains outstanding.
What is the procedure?
The European Arrest Warrant is a pro forma used across Europe. It is completed by the judicial authority in the state requesting extradition and transmitted via a common database – the European Arrest Warrant database.
Once basic checks are carried out by the National Crime Agency, the European Arrest Warrant is ‘certified’ and carries an immediate power of arrest throughout England and Wales.
In order to be valid, the warrant must contain the information set out in section 2 of the 2003 Act, the overall purpose of which is to seek to ensure that both the judicial authority receiving and deciding upon the request (i.e. the court) and the subject of the request him or herself (the ‘requested person’), can understand why it is they are wanted in the requesting state.
The European Arrest Warrant (supplemented by any further information provided by the judicial authority) must contain enough information for the court receiving the request to determine whether the requirements of the 2003 Act are met, including:
- That the warrant is based upon an ‘enforceable’ decision made a judicial authority – a prison sentence or a national arrest warrant;
- The enforceable judgment or national arrest warrant has been issued for the purpose of enforcing a prison sentence (convicted persons), or bringing the requested person to trial (accused persons);
- The enforceable judgment or national arrest warrant relates to conduct / alleged conduct which would constitute criminal conduct in all member states or is conduct which broadly corresponds to an offence in domestic law.
If the warrant is deemed to be valid, the court must next determine whether any of the statutory ‘bars’ to extradition exist. If no bars apply, the court must decide whether extradition would be compatible with human rights.
A District Judge sitting at Westminster Magistrates’ Court will decide whether to order extradition or not. The decision is subject to appeal.
Challenging a European Arrest Warrant
Successfully resisting extradition requires specialist knowledge and expertise. Instructing the right legal team as early in the process as possible is essential to securing the best possible outcome.
With the National Legal Service extradition team on your side, you can be assured of specialist advice and fearless representation every step of the way.
Why choose National Legal Service Solicitors for your extradition law matters?
Our extradition lawyers have successfully prevented the extradition of clients wanted all over Europe. We have defeated dozens of requests from Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, Germany, Lithuania and Hungary, to name but a few examples.
For instance, we have, in the last three months successfully prevented the extradition of clients sought in Sweden, Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria, Poland and Lithuania.
We also represent clients wanted in non-EU countries. People we have represented have been wanted in countries ranging from Australia and Albania to Peru and the United States.
Appeals (High Court) – European Arrest Warrants
C v Sweden  – victim of domestic abuse; family and private life; rights of children
B v Poland  – human trafficking, proportionality
G v Romania  – merged sentence and validity (novel point of law identified)
K v Poland  – second extradition and proportionality
OC v Latvia  – victim of human trafficking and risk of re-trafficking
B v Romania  – Merged sentences
S v Slovakia –  – delay and oppression; family and private life
K v Poland –  – victim of domestic abuse and right to family and private life
W v Poland –  – Article 8 and the rights of the child
G v Poland  – Expired limitation period; EAW invalid as purpose equivocal
K v Poland  – Article 8 ECHR private life rights; delay
G v Poland  – Article 8 ECHR private life rights; delay