Extent to which Secretary of State has discretion under the Crime (International Co-operation) Act 2003, s 1(3) to serve a judgment of an overseas court when requested, determined

Supreme Court of United Kingdom: While dismissing application for judicial review of the Secretary of State’s decision for the service of judgment of the Egyptian Authorities, the Court held that the Secretary of State in the present case was under no obligation to investigate the basis on which the judgment was obtained, under Section 1 of the Crimes (International Co-operation) Act, 2003. However, it was maintained by the Court that service of a foreign judgment, in circumstances different for the present case, which involve more direct and material consequence or obvious illegality or bad faith would warrant a probing inquiry.

The respondent in the instant matter, who was an Egyptian nationalist along with his son was charged with man slaughter, when a ferry operated by their company sank in the Red Sea, killing more than 1000 people. Following conviction by the Appeal Court of Egypt, where the absence of the respondent was of important consideration, he was sentenced to seven years imprisonment with hard labour. The Egyptian authorities requested service of judgment. The Secretary of State made inquiry as to the effect of the service of judgment on the respondents, after representations made by the solicitors of the respondents and informed them of her intent to serve the judgment. The application for judicial review of the decision of the Secretary of State was allowed by High Court. In the present judgment however, the Supreme Court having analysed the High Court’s stand among other points, dismissed the application for judicial review.

The Supreme Court observed that mandate of the 2003 Act was “furthering co-operation with other countries in respect of criminal proceedings” and there was no express statutory precondition to the exercise of the Secretary of State’s power. Though there would be circumstances in which it would not be appropriate to authorise service. As regard to the violations of the rights of respondent under Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights, the Court held that the service of the judgment would not expose him to any direct ill-treatment as was in the case of Soering v. United Kingdom (1989) 11 EHRR 439, and the service did not mean “authorising the enforcement of the judgment”. Hence, there was no violation. Finally, maintaining that the serving of the judgment within the UK does not involve any significant compromise on the sovereignty of the country, the Court held that the Secretary of State in the present case was under no obligations to investigate the consequences accruing from the service. Though there might be cases different from the present one where investigation would be required. [R (on the application of Ismail) v. Secretary of State for the Home Department [2016] UKSC 37, decided on 6 July 2016]

 

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