David Winch
Director
Accounting Evidence Ltd
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Mr Assange (Wikileaks) extradition case

Mr Assange (Wikileaks) extradition case

I have posted an update on this HERE.

There is an interesting issue as to which law takes precedence - EU law or UK law.

David

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30th May 2012 13:14

So...

... do you think that the laws of the country should be so complicated that not even an informed expert can reach the correct answer?

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30th May 2012 17:52

Incorrect informed expert?

@thisistibi

I am not quite sure who you have in mind here as the "informed expert".  If you mean me then I am far from an expert in the law relating to extradition - but I am an interested bystander.

However two of the seven Supreme Court judges disagreed with the outcome and would have delivered the opposite verdict.  They are informed experts and, in a sense, they 'got it wrong'.

The question, on the face of it, was simple, "Is a prosecutor a judicial authority?".  In the event five of the seven judges said 'Yes' and two said 'No'.

But the question really boils down to a rather different one.  Which is, "In the UK Act of Parliament, the Extradition Act 2003, does the term 'judicial authority' carry the meaning typically adopted in mainland Europe and (presumably) intended in the EU Framework Directive which the Act was implementing in the UK, or does that phrase carry the meaning normally understood in UK law?"

At the time the Act was being debated in Westminster, MPs were repeatedly told by ministers that the phrase in the UK Act would carry its UK meaning.  But the Supreme Court has now concluded that it actually carries the meaning understood in mainland Europe.  So MPs in passing the Act into law were not actually doing what they believed they were doing.

Which leaves one asking, how can an Act of Parliament be held to mean something other than what Parliament apparently meant by it?  There is, arguably at least, an issue of sovereignty here.

Tax lawyers will be interested in the references to Pepper v Hart in the Supreme Court judgment (since the principle from the Pepper v Hart case has been referred to in leading cases on the interpretation of tax legislation).

Fascinating!

David

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31st May 2012 08:11

EU or UK

Looks like 5 out of 7 Judges thought that EU law trumped UK law.

Not sure why we're surprised as most of us now know that most of our laws are decided by Brussels i.e. almost any decision by the UK Courts can be appealed using the EU Human Rights legislation. This was the legislation you may remember from which Cameron vowed to opt out once we'd legislated for our own Bill of Rights.

I see that Assange is going to appeal the decision. I thought the Supreme Court was now the highest Court in the land (formerly the House of Lords) so will his appeal be heard in the Supreme Court or will he appeal to our masters in Brussels?

 

 

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31st May 2012 08:29

Appeal

Initially Mr Assange's lawyers have been given 14 days to consider whether they want to ask the UK Supreme Court to receive further submissions and reconsider.  So that would mean going back to the Supreme Court.

I have suggested that is akin to Moses receiving the tablets of stone and asking whether the wording could be revised.

There was a deal of comment in the judgments of the seven Supreme Court judges as to whether they had no option but to follow the EU interpretation of the Framework Directive.  Ultimately they seem to be of the view that they should normally do that but that it was not absolutely imperative that they must.

But it would be an over-simplification to say five of the judges were of the same mind.  Those five came to the same final conclusion but by various routes - some laying stress on one point, some on another.

If the Supreme Court are, in the event, not asked to reconsider or if they do reconsider and come to the same conclusion then I believe an appeal to the European Court is a possibility.

David

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14th Jun 2012 19:00

Update

The Supreme Court have rejected the application to re-open the case and reconsider their decision.

David

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