Lawyers are anxious about the lack of clarity regarding the UK’s extradition arrangements with other EU countries once the UK leaves the union in March 2019.
Speaking just under two years since the UK voted to leave the European Union during the Fraud Lawyers Association’s annual conference in London on 15 June, Edward Grange of Corker Binning in London said: “It seems we are no closer to understanding what the landscape will look like, certainly in terms of our extradition arrangements with the EU.”
Panellists discussed two likely options that the UK will take to replace the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) system, the mechanism through which judicial authorities within EU countries can ask their counterparts to arrest wanted individuals.
Panellists said the first option available to the UK is to arrange a EAW-style agreement. As part of the ongoing Brexit negotiations, the UK has proposed continued access to the EAW after 29 March 2019. Grange said that there is precedent for this arrangement. Norway and Iceland, non-EU members, have an EAW-style surrender procedure agreement with the EU member states. However, Grange said: “The bad news is that it took over a decade to negotiate that agreement, and despite being agreed in 2014, it has not been ratified. The UK will have to speed up its negotiations if we can expect a similar agreement.”
The current EAW system relies on a tick box system, whereas under the 1957 European Convention on Extradition, extradition would be based on government-to-government requests and authorities would need to contain more details in the request. Grange said: it “would also require judges to issue warrants of arrests, whereas an EAW already acts as a warrant for that arrest”.
In the UK’s Serious Fraud Office’s (SFO) 2017 annual report, the authority said that losing the EIO after Brexit will significantly slow down cross-border investigations.
On top of that, Grange told the audience that the decision to leave the EU would have another set of consequences for UK enforcement agencies, saying that they may lose access to tools such as the European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS), which contains conviction details of individuals from member states. Equally, the UK may also lose access to Prüm, an EU-wide database on DNA and fingerprint material. According to news reports, British police use the database 539 million times a year.
Grange added: “Post-Brexit there is no precedent for a non-EU state to have access to ECRIS, and access to Prüm would be dependent upon the participation in the Schengen border-free area. This loss of access is going to severely impact the speed at which UK agencies can pursue EU-related investigations.”
Read the full article in GIR here.