Recent changes to the British 2003 Extradition Act
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Recent changes to the British 2003 Extradition Act


The 2003 Extradition Act in the United Kingdom was originally created to provide clarity on the rights of the powers of the British police to arrest persons where the offence was committed abroad.

Following the case of Regina v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis, Ex P Rottman [2002] 2 All ER 865, the 1984 Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) on which officers had to rely was challenged during the arrest of the defendant under an extradition warrant. This ultimately led to the requirement of provisions to permit police to respond to future incoming requests.

It is vital to have strict guidelines on how third-party law enforcement can operate when carrying out the demands of another country so that no rights are violated in the process. The original 2003 Act was modelled on the PACE codes which can be found here.

Since Brexit, the United Kingdom has had to negotiate amendments to this Act to reflect the recent political changes.

Originally, the UK followed the 2003 Act which implemented the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) in cases of extradition but after 31 December 2021, the guidelines of post-Brexit extradition is contained within the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) between the UK and the EU.

The TCA’s policy is not dissimilar to the former EAW as the government described this arrangement as “providing for the continuation of a warrant-based system…modelled on the processes the EU has had with Norway and Iceland”.

Some changes include the introduction of an “overall principle of proportionality” and the inclusion of an “optional nationality bar” which “provides an ability to refuse to execute an arrest warrant on the grounds of nationality” and most likely will be used by states that “declined to extradite their nationals to the UK during the transitional period” such as Germany, Austria and Slovenia.

However, this was not the only amendment that the United Kingdom implemented recently, as before the creation of the TCA, the government introduced the Extradition (Provisional Arrest) Bill in January 2020.

This would “amend the 2003 Act to provide police with the power to arrest without a warrant for the purposes of extradition” which applies to non-EU countries such as “Australia, Canada, Liechtenstein, New Zealand, Switzerland and the US” “because the UK has a high level of confidence in these countries as extradition partners, in their criminal justice systems, and in their use of extradition”.

Essentially, this was a power that was already found in the EAW that the UK felt appropriate to implement amongst other trusted states outside of the European Union. Additional safeguards have been introduced so that the power to include other countries to this Bill is possible but not abused.

All updated information of extradition processes and review can be found online via the link here.


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