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Public law and Regulation

Case reports and guidance on public law and professional regulation issues

03 JUL 2013

Belbin v Lille Court of First Instance [2013] EWHC 1099 (Admin); (2013) PLLR 071

Extradition - France - drug offences - money laundering - European Arrest Warrant - double jeopardy - section 12 Extradition Act 2003 - whether conviction arose from same or substantially the same facts

The appellant did not meet the threshold required to avoid extradition under provisions designed to prevent double jeopardy; although there was some overlap in evidence and the investigations.

2 May 2013

Administrative Court

Foskett J

(1)        The appellant (B) was subject to a European Arrest Warrant under which the respondent (L) sought his extradition pursuant to his being convicted in his absence of an offence of drug-trafficking and three offences of money laundering. He had been sentenced to 7 years in prison. He had already been convicted, in the UK, of similar offences arising out of similar facts.

(2)        B challenged the extradition proceedings on the basis that he was protected by section 12 of the Extradition Act 2003, which provides that extradition shall not go ahead where the rule against double jeopardy would be breached.

(3)        Foskett J held that, although there was some evidential and temporal overlap between the facts leading to conviction in France and those leading to conviction in the UK, they did not arise out of facts which were the same or substantially the same. That there had been ‘evidence-sharing' between the cases did not of itself suggest otherwise. Indeed overlap and exchange in information is inevitable in such a situation, and encouraged under the arrangements for Eurojust and Europol. The court would not wish to undermine such cooperation unless the facts were very clear. It was not possible to discern a rule that extradition should be blocked where the charges pursuant to which extradition is sought could have been brought in the UK. In any case, the case against B in the UK was based on conspiracy, with others in the UK, to supply drugs. The indictments did not name B's co-defendants in France and did not concern the money laundering matters in relation to which his extradition was sought. The elements of the offences charged in France were materially different to those charged in the UK [21] - [25].

Appeal dismissed

Key paragraphs

[1] - [8] Introduction

[9] - Authorities

[10] - [20] Comparison of the two cases

[21] - [23] Evidence sharing

[24] - [25] Whether B should have been tried in the UK

[26] - [27] Conclusion. 

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