Freemans are representing a client in the Supreme Court. It is an application of crucial importance to their client, which could also have widespread, ongoing significance in other extradition cases.
Our client, a Czech national, was contacted by Czech police in 2004 following an allegation of fraud in connection with property transfers made that year. An informal meeting took place soon after and he provided the police with documentation related to the business deals. He was neither arrested nor brought in for further questioning.
In 2006 he and his partner both came to the UK. They settled and secured employment here and have remained ever since.
Unknown to our client, in 2008, the Czech Republic issued legal proceedings against him. He was convicted in his absence of three offences of fraud, and sentenced to 8 years imprisonment. He, however, was not considered to be a fugitive from the Czech justice system and has a right to a retrial there
European Arrest Warrant
In 2013, a European arrest warrant was issued against him and, eventually in March 2017, he was arrested and appeared before Westminster Magistrates ‘Court. Bail was refused. He was kept in custody awaiting his full extradition hearing.
Extradition proceedings and appeal
During the proceedings, Freemans advanced on their client’s behalf that his extradition should be barred, as it would be unjust or oppressive to extradite him due to the long time that had passed since the alleged offending.
At the Magistrates Court the District Judge, ordered our client’s extradition, finding that the passage of time was to be considered from the date of conviction in 2008 and not from the period of the alleged offences in 2004 and 2005 as argued on his behalf by Freemans.
We then issued appeal proceedings, which were dismissed, We, however, followed this with an application to the High Court to certify a point of law of general public importance. On 7th November 2017, the court certified the following question of general public importance
‘’In circumstances where an individual has been convicted, but that conviction is not final because he has an unequivocal right to a retrial after surrender, is he ‘accused’ pursuant to s.14 (a) of the Extradition Act 2003, or ‘’unlawfully at large, pursuant to s.14 (b) of the Extradition act 2003, for the purposes of considering the ‘’ passage of time’’ bar to surrender?’’
Supreme Court proceedings
The Supreme Court subsequently granted permission to appeal, and our client was granted bail.
The case is listed before the Supreme Court on 4 December 2018.
Freemans Associate solicitor and extradition specialist Deborah Hogg has been litigating this case throughout and working closely with counsel Mark Summers QC and Ben Seifert. She said this about the case “13 years have passed since the allegations, surely it would be unjust to extradite in these circumstances after all these years. He was living and working openly in the UK for 12 years. Why was there a delay in issuing proceedings?”