Wednesday, 1 February 2012

European Dimension: a trio of items

Rights of Defendants:

The European Union has published factsheets on the Rights of Defendants in Criminal Proceedings.  The Bar Council and Criminal Bar Association played a leading role in preparing the factsheet for England and Wales - (see Bar Council Press release).  The UK link has further links to the separate jurisdictions in the UK.

Julian Assange:

On 1st February, the Supreme Court commenced hearing the appeal by Julian Assange relating to the request by Sweden to extradite him.  The UK Supreme Court blog has a preview of the case.  Law and Lawyers previously looked at the case on 2nd November 2011 - "Assange - European Arrest Warrants"  The  Supreme Court hearing will end on 2nd February.  The point in issue is whether the Swedish prosecutor is to be regarded as a "Judicial Authority" for the purposes of the European Arrest Warrant Framework Decision (implemented in England and Wales by the Extradition Act 2003 Part 1).  If the Supreme Court decides that the prosecutor is not a judicial authority, then the extradition request will fail.  Proceedings may be viewed live.

For a view that Mr Assange might be in Sweden by Easter, see Head of Legal Blog
and also on Head of Legal - "What if Julian Assange won?" - an interesting look at potential problems which could arise in the event that the Swedish warrant turns out to be invalid 

New EU Treaty is coming: - but UK not to be a signatory:

European Union Member States - except for the UK and the Czech Republic - agreed to proceed to a Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union - see Europa.  The aim is that Member States will sign up in March and will enter into force once it has been ratified by at least 12 euro area member states. It will be legally binding as an international agreement and will be open to the EU countries which do not sign it at the outset.  Interestingly, the Europa website states that the aim is to incorporate the Treaty into EU law within five years of its entry into force.   The Treaty will impose a "balanced budget rule" rule and Court of Justice of the EU will have certain jurisdiction in this area.  The Prime Minister's statement to the House of Commons is here.

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