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Press Release - Decision in Lis, Lange and Chmielewski v Poland

The case of Lis, Lange and Chmielewski v Poland is a landmark extradition case considering the issue of whether requested persons can lawfully be extradited from the UK to Poland given the recent developments which have affected the judicial system in Poland. All three requested persons were subject to European Arrest Warrants from Poland.

The decision in this case was handed down on 31 October 2018 at the Divisional Court of Appeal, with Lord Chief Justice Burnett leading the panel of three Judges.

The issue in this case was whether the judicial reforms brought in since the election of the current Polish Government in 2015 have damaged judicial independence so severely that it would be a breach of the European Convention in Human Rights for persons to be extradited to Poland. The lawyers representing Lis, Lange and Chmielewski argued that the deterioration in the rule of law in Poland meant that their clients would be at risk of a ‘flagrant denial' of a fair trial.

They also argued that the current state of the judiciary in Poland meant that it should no longer be considered to be a competent judicial authority as required by the Extradition Act 2003. The purpose of this legislation is to ensure that it is an independent judicial body, and not a government representative that issues European Arrest Warrants.

This issue had recently been adjudicated in the European Court of Justice in the case of LM (also known as Celmer). In this case the European Court rejected the arguments but before it that persons extradited to Poland would be flagrantly denied a fair trial there.

Sadly for the three requested persons in this case, the Divisional Court followed the decision in LM and rejected the arguments made by their lawyers. In summary the judgment states that the judicial system in Poland has not deteriorated to the point where it should not be considered to be a competent judicial authority. It also found that as the requested persons were not facing sensitive or politically linked cases there was nothing to suggest that they may be denied a fair trial.

There is still however hope for persons facing extradition requests from Poland. The decision could yet be challenged at the Supreme Court. Also, if the judicial system in Poland is found by the EU not to be improving there may be another opportunity to make these arguments in our courts.

If you have any questions about this case please contact Kaim Todner Solicitors on extraditionteam@kaimtodner.com or 07950 233 792. We are able to take queries in Polish.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

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