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What an extradition hearing is and why it matters.

Arnell, Paul



Extradition is important. It serves vital purposes. The centrepiece of UK extradition is the hearing. It plays the operative role in the rendition of accused and convicted persons from the UK to third states. In light of the significance of extradition and the centrality of extradition hearings it is not unreasonable to assume that their nature would be settled. This is not the case. Extradition hearings are multifariously understood. This is largely because various existential questions - what they are, what they do, what rules govern them - arise in different contexts and are answered with reference to distinct law. There are three such contexts. They are disputes over the applicable procedural and evidential rules, uncertainty as to their designation for the purposes of appeal and debates concerning the applicability of the right to a fair trial to them. Each of these contexts is framed by a body of rules. These obviously include the Extradition Act 2003 (2003 Act), the core piece of UK extradition law. Also relevant, however, is the law specific to each - procedural and evidential rules, provision governing appeals from the High Court of Justiciary to the Supreme Court and human rights law. Whilst extradition hearings are variously understood across the UK the issue has a particular Scottish resonance. This is due to the unique rules of criminal procedure and evidence and terms of the devolution settlement. Two of the three contexts, therefore, have a distinctly Scottish aspect. This article firstly argues that the variation in conception of extradition hearings is explained by the fact that the same broad question of what extradition hearings are arises in three contexts where distinct law is relied upon to provide the answer. It suggests that an analysis and synthesis of these views leads to a single understanding of extradition hearings as sui generis quasi-criminal proceedings affected by international considerations. Secondly, it is argued that the acceptance of this conceptualisation matters. In addition to facilitating comprehension, a single understanding of extradition hearings can be a platform from which the law can develop in a manner based upon clear and agreed foundations. With extradition hearings singly and positively understood, the law governing and affecting them can evolve in a more coherent and defensible way. This article supports the adoption of such a conceptualisation.


ARNELL, P. 2018. What an extradition hearing is and why it matters. Juridical review [online], 4, pages 250-268. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 10, 2018
Online Publication Date Dec 31, 2018
Publication Date Dec 31, 2018
Deposit Date Sep 11, 2018
Publicly Available Date Jan 1, 2020
Journal Juridical review
Print ISSN 0022-6785
Publisher Sweet and Maxwell
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 4
Pages 250-268
Keywords Extradition; Hearings; UK; Scotland; Human rights law
Public URL
Publisher URL


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