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There is no general basis to decline extradition to Poland

29th September 2021

On 23 September 2021, the Divisional Court handed down its landmark judgment dismissing the appeals of Robert Wozniak and Wojciech Chlabicz against orders for their extradition to Poland.

The issues addressed by the Court have been raised in practically every single Polish extradition request (and have been raised in challenge to requests from other judicial authorities) and a large number of appeals had been stayed pending the judgment in this matter.

The appeals raised issues about the impact on extradition from the UK to Poland of legislative developments in Poland since 2015 affecting its judiciary. The appellants challenged whether – by reason of these changes – the Polish judiciary continues to constitute a ‘judicial authority’ for the purpose of section 2 of the Extradition Act 2003 and/or whether return would constitute a breach of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Alexander dos Santos of Serjeants’ Inn, led by Helen Malcolm QC of 3 Raymond Buildings acted for the successful Polish judicial authorities. The Court accepted the respondents’ arguments that there is no general basis to decline extradition to Poland and that an executing judicial authority must conduct a specific and precise assessment of the particular case. On the facts of these appeals, the Court also accepted that “…there is nothing in the material before us, nor any particular feature of the Appellants’ cases, which gives rise to a proper basis to refuse to execute their respective [European Arrest Warrants]” (§216 of the judgment).

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