Public Prosecutors Workplace of the Athens Courtroom of Enchantment v O’Connor (Northern Eire) [2022] UKSC 4 – UKSC Weblog

On this submit, Mark Summers KC and James Stansfeld of Matrix Chambers touch upon the Supreme Courtroom’s determination in Public Prosecutors Workplace of the Athens Courtroom of Enchantment v O’Connor (Northern Eire) [2022] UKSC 4.

The issues related to appellate closing dates beneath the Extradition Act are long-standing and infamous. As a part of the then Authorities’s drive to rid the system of delays that had beforehand characterised extradition, the 2003 Act launched inflexible, and peremptory, time intervals by which appeals had been required to be lodged.

The issues with such a system had been apparent and instantly felt. Unrepresented defendants in custody, usually with out entry to even a fax machine, had been the prime, however under no circumstances solely, teams of individuals dealt severe and predictable injustice by this rigid regime.

What instantly adopted was, paradoxically, an equally predictable stream of extra Excessive Courtroom litigation testing the bounds of the statutory regime; what constituted a legitimate ‘discover’ of attraction (would a mere letter do?); what ‘grounds’ did the discover require (would a letter which contained none do?); what did ‘giving’ discover imply (did it embody service, and in that case on which of the numerous extradition actors?); did the CPR service deeming provisions apply (might discover be given outdoors of courtroom hours?); might an irregular discover be cured (what if solely the entrance web page of a discover had been faxed by the jail?). And so on, and so on. The Courtroom’s solutions to most of those questions had been invariably coloured closely by a want to alleviate the injustices brought on by an unnecessarily harsh statutory scheme. Liberty is, in spite of everything, at stake. However information are tough and a want to bend regular ideas to accommodate them, make for, at greatest, inconsistent and superficial selections.

Issues got here to a head within the Supreme Courtroom in 2012 in Pomiechowski v Poland [2012] 1 WLR 1604, when this Courtroom declared the unfairness of the system and strove to discover a extra sustainable manner round it. For a number of the appellants in that case, an expansive and ‘beneficiant’ interpretation of an attraction ‘discover’ was alone ample to take away injustice. For one, nevertheless, not even that the machine might work (a minimum of not with out reversing previous to the Supreme Courtroom authority holding that ‘giving’ discover means serving in addition to lodging: Mucelli v Albania [2009] 1 WLR 276 ). The answer supplied in Pomiechowski? To enterprise article 6 ECHR and the precise of entry to justice into pastures it was by no means supposed to achieve. ECtHR case legislation had constantly refused to use article 6 to the substantive conduct of extradition proceedings. This Courtroom nevertheless, imaginatively reasoned that, as a result of UK residents possessed a frequent legislation the precise to enter and stay throughout the UK and the extradition proceedings beneath the 2003 Act might have an effect on that proper, such extradition proceedings fell inside article 6 as a result of such a defendant was entitled to a good willpower of his frequent legislation proper to stay throughout the jurisdiction. Reasoning usually then that absolutely the and rigid closing dates for attraction within the 2003 Act didn’t meet the required article 6 normal of entry to justice, the HRA served accordingly, within the case of a UK citizen a minimum of, to require the statutory provisions to be learn as being topic to judicial discretion to increase time.

The boundaries to what this Courtroom might obtain this manner had been plain. The brand new implied discretion couldn’t apply to non-UK residents, nor international states. For the previous a minimum of, the system remained ‘discriminatory’ and’unsatisfactory’.

Parliament finally answered this Courtroom’s name to behave. The Anti-social Conduct, Crime and Policing Act 2014 did so by inserting into the assorted protection appellate provisions of the 2003 Act (ss.26(5), 103(10), 108(7A)) a discretion to increase time ‘if the individual did every thing fairly doable to make sure that the discover was given as quickly because it might be given’.

This was and is not any common discretion to increase time the place it’s within the pursuits of justice to take action, neither is it one which allows consideration of the underlying deserves of a putative attraction. The only real focus of the facility is as a substitute on the conduct of ‘the individual’. However the energy nonetheless labored fairly effectively to take away the injustices brought on by the system and issues quietened down. At the very least they did till Szegfu v Hungary [2016] 1 WLR 322; by which the Excessive Courtroom afforded a broad interpretation to the that means of ‘the individual’ and utilized to the Act the ‘surrogacy’ precept, by which the faults of attorneys are attributed to the celebration personally. On this context, that signifies that a defendant (in custody and so on.) who had carried out all s/he might do to provoke an attraction (by instructing attorneys and so on.) was shut out (and surrendered overseas) as a result of their instructed lawyer had didn’t act with applicable diligence. Szegfu undoubtedly marked a pointy change of judicial course. Beforehand striving to bend an unfair system in direction of equity, the Excessive Courtroom apparently now regarded the system as sufficiently truthful, and indulgence to defendants is not wanted. In accordance with the Excessive Courtroom, the only mischief to which the brand new discretion was aimed was unrepresented defendants in custody; judicial latitude in its interpretation was not required for defendants (resembling Mr Szegfu) who had been represented.

The Excessive Courtroom in Northern Eire promptly disagreed (O’Connor v Greece [2017] NIQB 77) and the matter got here earlier than the Supreme Courtroom.

On 2 February 2022, the Supreme Courtroom gave judgment in Public Prosecutors Workplace of the Athens Courtroom of Enchantment v O’Connor (Northern Eire) [2022] UKSC 4; [2022] 1 WLR 903. The Courtroom unanimously held that Szegfu was flawed.

The choice is neither controversial nor shocking. The mischief to which the brand new discretion was aimed was assuredly not confined to unrepresented defendants in custody. Relatively, a number of the key injustices which had led to the introduction of the discretion had concerned failures by attorneys (see, eg R (Mann) v Westminster Magistrates’ Courtroom [2010] EWHC 48 (Admin)). Attributing their faults to their purchasers was neither supposed by the scheme launched by the 2014 amendments, nor remotely warranted in precept. Particularly the place the freedom of the person is at stake. Recall, for instance, that Mr O’Connor himself was (as soon as his attraction was admitted) discharged on Article 3 ECHR grounds because of the therapy that awaited him within the infamous Greek jail system.

Context is every thing. It was by no means possible that, given the pivotal position it had performed in its creation, the Supreme Courtroom was realistically going to just accept the neutralizing of its hard-won judicial discretion on this manner. The ‘surrogacy’ precept will not be, in spite of everything, of common utility. It was doubly unlikely to take action in an attraction carrying a confirmed Article 3 violation. In reality, the Supreme Courtroom had solely given Greece permission to attraction in any respect given that it undertook to not arrest Mr O’Connor within the UK even when it received the attraction.

One is left questioning why the Szegfu neutering try ever occurred within the first place? Little question the shortage of underlying advantage in Mr Szegfu’s attraction didn’t incline the Excessive Courtroom to entertain his out-of-time attraction. Information undoubtedly drive selections. Nevertheless it bears observing that the entire dialogue in Szegfu was arid (obiter) in any occasion; the faults in late service had been Mr Szegfu’s personal, not his attorneys. It required no ‘surrogacy’ precept to exclude his try and attraction.


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