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05 May 2023

Bindmans LLP secures discharge of Polish extradition warrant

4 mins

On Thursday 27 April, our client appeared before DJ Sternberg for his final extradition hearing.

Having heard our arguments regarding the Polish authorities’ relentless pursuit of our client’s extradition and the ensuing impact on him and his family, unusually, DJ Sternberg ordered our client’s discharge that same day. 

Our client’s extradition was sought by the Polish authorities to serve a three-year sentence for criminal damage and making threats. The warrant was issued following proceedings in Poland to consolidate his outstanding custodial sentences, his conviction for criminal damage dates from 2004, and his conviction for making threats dates from 2009.

Remarkably, this is the Polish authorities’ fourth attempt to extradite our client and the seventh warrant issued in respect of him. All previous warrants have either been withdrawn or discharged owing to their non-compliance with section 2, Article 8 grounds and/or delay, and Bindmans has acted throughout. It is, in fact, the second time that the Polish authorities have issued a warrant in respect of the criminal damage offence, notwithstanding that warrant’s discharge by DJ Coleman on grounds of Article 8 and delay in 2014. Since the previous warrants issued against our client have been discharged, he has continued to establish a life for himself in the UK, he has married his long-term partner, together they have had a young daughter, and he has continued to work successfully in the construction industry.

In preparation for our client’s case, Bindmans LLP instructed Katarzyna Dąbrowska, a lawyer in Poland and expert in Polish law, and we obtained detailed statements from our client and his family and friends. We also obtained detailed advice regarding our client’s immigration position in the UK following Brexit.

At the final hearing, arguments were successfully advanced that extradition would be oppressive owing to delay, and result in a disproportionate interference with our client and his family’s Article 8 rights. In a 37-page judgment passed down that same afternoon, DJ Sternberg ordered our client’s discharge.  He confirmed that:

‘Bearing in mind the relatively low level of seriousness of the criminal damage offence, the higher level of seriousness of the threats offence, the extensive and culpable delay on the part of the Polish authorities, the repeated failure of previous extradition proceedings and the false sense of security he established following the earlier decisions to discharge him, during which time he has married and had a child and the impact his wife and their child as well as on [….] himself, I find that his surrender in this case goes beyond the hardship inherent in extradition and that it would give rise to oppression.’

Unusually and notwithstanding his findings in relation to delay and Article 8, DJ Sternberg went on to consider our arguments in relation to abuse of process:

‘…if I am wrong about my decisions on passage of time and article 8 ECHR I would nonetheless have found that the requested person’s extradition for the criminal damage offence would be an abuse of the Court’s process. He was discharged on that offence on substantive passage of time and article 8 grounds in 2014. The Judicial Authority did not appeal. To seek a fresh warrant to return him to serve a sentence for that matter, the only change being the amalgamation of the conviction and a new cumulative sentence being involved seems to me to offend against the rule of finality. I accept, of course that there is no issue estoppel in extradition proceedings and that it is perfectly possible and permissible for a person to be sought more than once for the same allegations, see Auzins v Latvia [2016] 4 WLR 75, Camaras v Romania [2018] 1 WLR 1174 and Jasvins v Latvia [2020] EWHC 602 (Admin). However, in circumstances where this Court has adjudicated on an EAW and made an order for discharge which was not appealed, to seek extradition again, some 8 years later does, on the particular facts of this case give rise to a usurpation of the statutory scheme and prejudice to the requested person in having to be subject to extradition proceedings for a remarkable seventh time. Accordingly, I would stay that offence as an abuse of process.’

On 4 May 2023, the CPS confirmed that it will not appeal.

Our client was represented by Hester Cavaciuti and Shivani Soni of Bindmans LLP, together with Florence Iveson of Matrix Chambers.

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