Extradition is the transfer of a person from one country to another in respect of criminal proceedings. In general, extradition is only possible if there is an extradition agreement between the two countries in question.

This means that Ireland must have an agreement with the other country before someone can be extradited to or from Ireland. Individual countries also have specific rules about extradition.

Since 2004, extradition between EU member states has been governed by the European Arrest Warrant Framework Decision. The Trade and Co-operation Agreement between the United Kingdom and the European Union provides for extradition between Ireland and the U.K.  These agreements have been implemented in Ireland by the European Arrest Warrant Act 2003 and 2012. In most other cases extradition to other countries from Ireland is governed by the Extradition Act 1965 (as amended).

The European Arrest Warrant Act provides that a requested person cannot be surrendered or extradited in certain circumstances,  for instance:

  • There is a minimum gravity threshold: a requested person may not be surrendered on an EAW unless at least a 12 month sentence could be imposed after a trial, or unless at least a 4 month sentence was actually imposed.
  • A requested person may not be surrendered on an EAW for actions which would not amount to criminality in Irish law.
  • A requested person may not be surrendered on an EAW for a conviction in the course of a trial in their absence where their defence rights were not properly upheld.
  • A requested person may not be surrendered on an EAW for the purpose of investigation.
  • A requested person may not be surrendered on an EAW for a political offence.
  • A requested person must not be surrendered on an EAW if they will be held in a prison where the conditions are inhumane or degrading.
  • A requested person should not be surrendered at a time when there are ongoing significant humanitarian reasons not to extradite him or her.

European arrest warrant surrender hearings are dealt with by the High Court and on appeal to the Court of Appeal and/or Supreme Court. Legal questions arising from EAW hearings may also be referred to the Court of Justice of the European Union in Luxembourg.

Extradition & Brexit

As of 11pm on 31 December 2020, the prior European Arrest Warrant regime stopped applying to the UK in its current form. The regime continues to apply though to persons validly arrested under a European Arrest Warrant prior to that time.

The EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement does however contain similar extradition rules and procedures to the European Arrest Warrant regime and these rules continue to allow extradition to Ireland from the UK and vice versa. These rules apply to extradition requests made after 11pm on 31 December 2020 and prior requests where the person sought had not been arrested at that time.

Connolly Finan Fleming & European Arrest Warrants

European Arrest Warrant Law is very complex. Connolly Finan Fleming engage with experienced Barristers who specialise in this area.

We are before the Higher Courts regularly representing clients who wish to fight their extradition or in cases where surrender is inevitable. We have successfully obtained assurances by the issuing state before the extradition takes place.

In 2021 we achieved a number of refusals to surrender on foot of EAW requests which we fought on behalf of our clients in the High Court.

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