THE SUPREME COURT
[S.C. No. 171 of 2005]Murray C.J.
Governor of Cloverhill Prison
Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform
Judgment delivered the 19th day of December 2005 by Denham J.
Time limits under the Council Framework Decision of 13th June 2002, hereinafter referred to as the Council Framework Decision, and the European arrest warrant Act, 2003, hereinafter referred to as the Act of 2003, are the issues arising on this appeal. Kenneth Dundon, the applicant/appellant, hereafter referred to as the applicant, contends that he is in unlawful custody because time limits established under the European arrest warrant scheme have been breached. The appeal is based on the interpretation of two documents, (a) the Council Framework Decision, and (b) the Act of 2003.
2. A change in arrangements
The Council Framework Decision and the Act of 2003 mark a change in extradition arrangements between the States of the European Union. This change had been under consideration prior to the Twin Towers destruction in New York on 9/11. However, as a consequence of 9/11 the process advanced more rapidly in the European Union and culminated in the Council Framework Decision. Subsequently the Act of 2003 was enacted in Ireland. This new scheme represents a development from the system of extradition between the States of the European Union, to a European arrest warrant procedure. The new scheme is representative of the growth, consequent on the 1999 Tampere Summit, of the concept of an Area of freedom, security and justice within the European Union.
3.1 Council Framework Decision
The Council Framework Decision on the European arrest warrant was adopted by the Council of the European Union on the 13th June 2002, under Title VI of the Treaty of the European Union. Title VI in Article 29 states the objective of providing citizens with a high level of safety within an area of freedom, security and justice. The means to obtain this objective include closer cooperation between judicial authorities in the European Union in accordance with the provisions of Article 31, Article 32 and Article 34(2). Article 31 (a) and (b) state:
Thus, the Council Framework Decision does not have direct effect, and is not part of the domestic law of this State. It is binding on the State as to the result to be achieved. It promotes common action by the States of the European Union to advance approximation of the laws in the States on specific issues. It is left to the national authorities to chose the form and method of implementation. While the Council Framework Decision is not per se part of the national law it is useful to consider its terms in some depths as it is the background upon which the Act of 2003 was created and it is referred to in the said Act.
“Common action on judicial cooperation in criminal matters shall include:
(a) facilitating and accelerating cooperation between competent ministries and judicial or equivalent authorities of the Member States in relation to proceedings and the enforcement of decisions;
(b) facilitating extradition between Member States;”
. . .
Article 34(2) provides:
“The Council shall take measures and promote cooperation, using the appropriate form and procedures as set out in this Title, contributing to the pursuit of the objectives of the Union. To that end, acting unanimously on the initiative of any Member State or of the Commission, the Council may:
(a) . . .
(b) adopt framework decisions for the purpose of approximation of the laws and regulations of the Member States. Framework decisions shall be binding upon the Member States as to the result to be achieved but shall leave to the national authorities the choice of form and methods. They shall not entail direct effect;
. . .”
The Recitals of the Council Framework Decision refer to the objectives of the Decision. These indicate an aspiration to simplify procedures, reduce delay and advance judicial co-operation within an area of freedom, security and justice. Thus, for example, the fifth recital states:
Mutual recognition is at the heart of this new process, as the sixth recital provides:
“The objective set for the Union to become an area of freedom, security and justice leads to abolishing extradition between Member States and replacing it by a system of surrender between judicial authorities. Further, the introduction of a new simplified system of surrender of sentenced or suspected persons for the purposes of execution or prosecution of criminal sentences makes it possible to remove the complexity and potential for delay inherent in the present extradition procedures. Traditional cooperation relations which have prevailed up till now between Member States should be replaced by a system of free movement of judicial decisions in criminal matters, covering both pre-sentence and final decisions, within an area of freedom, security and justice”.
The high level of confidence between Member States is recognised in the tenth recital:
“The European arrest warrant provided for in this Framework Decision is the first concrete measure in the field of criminal law implementing the principle of mutual recognition which the European Council referred to as the ‘cornerstone’ of judicial cooperation.”
The preservation of fundamental rights, and national constitutional rights including due process, is recognised in the twelfth recital:
“The mechanism of the European arrest warrant is based on a high level of confidence between Member States. Its implementation may be suspended only in the event of a serious and persistent breach by one of the Member States of the principle set out in Article 6(1) of the Treaty on European Union, determined by the Council pursuant to Article 7(1) of the said Treaty with the consequences set out in Article 7(2) thereof.”
3.3 Time limits provided in Council Framework Decision
“This Framework Decision respects fundamental rights and observes the principles recognised by Article 6 of the Treaty on European Union and reflected in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, (in particular Chapter VI thereof). Nothing in this Framework Decision may be interpreted as prohibiting refusal to surrender a person for whom a European arrest warrant has been issued when there are reasons to believe, on the basis of objective elements, that the said arrest warrant has been issued for the purpose of prosecuting or punishing a person on the grounds of his or her sex, race, religion, ethnic origin, nationality, language, political opinions or sexual orientation, or that that person's position may be prejudiced for any of these reasons. This Framework Decision does not prevent a Member State from applying its constitutional rules relating to due process, freedom of association, freedom of the press and freedom of expression in other media.”
The Council Framework Decision refers to time limits. Thus article 17(1) states that:
The use of the word “shall” indicates a mandatory requirement. It is mandated that the matter be dealt with urgently.
“A European arrest warrant shall be dealt with and executed as a matter of urgency.”
Article 17(2) relates to the specific position where a requested person consents to surrender, and so it does not apply to this case. However, its terms are important in considering the new scheme as a whole. It states:
The words “should be” are not the mandatory “shall” of Article 17(1). The difference in the wording means that, while it is not mandatory, these words urge such an approach and recommend strongly that the time limit of 10 days be met.
“In cases where the requested person consents to his surrender, the final decision on the execution of the European arrest warrant should be taken within a period of 10 days after consent has been given.”
Article 17(3) relates to the position where a requested person does not consent to surrender, and thus it applies to this type of case It states:
This article continues the use of words of exhortation, in relation to the time limit of 60 days. It urges that the final decision be taken within a period of 60 days after the arrest.
“In other cases, the final decision on the execution of the European arrest warrant should be taken within a period of 60 days after the arrest of the requested person”.
Article 17(4) provides for an extension of the time limit. It states:
This article provides for mandatory notification. It is a requirement made of the executing judicial authority. It refers to one extension of 30 days.
“Where in specific cases the European arrest warrant cannot be executed within the time limits laid down in paragraphs 2 and 3, the executing judicial authority shall immediately inform the issuing judicial authority thereof, giving the reasons for the delay. In such case, the time limits may be extended by a further 30 days.”
Exceptional circumstances are anticipated in Article 17(7), which provides:
It is noteworthy that this article refers to ‘exceptional circumstances’ where a Member State cannot observe the time limits, while it is urged that the time limits be met. The requirement that the Member State should inform Eurojust is clearly a mechanism to encourage compliance with the aspired time limits. Also, the terms of the mandatory requirement of notice to Eurojust anticipates a method of evaluation of the implementation of the Council Framework Decision.
“Where in exceptional circumstances a Member State cannot observe the time limits provided for in this Article, it shall inform Eurojust, giving the reasons for the delay. In addition, a Member State which has experienced repeated delays on the part of another Member State in the execution of European arrest warrants shall inform the Council with a view to evaluating the implementation of this Framework Decision at Member State level.”
Article 23 relates to time limits for the surrender of the person. Article 23(1) provides that a person shall be surrendered as soon as possible on a date agreed between the authorities. Article 23(2) states that he/she shall be surrendered no later than 10 days after the final decision on the execution of the European arrest warrant. However, pursuant to Article 23(3), if the surrender of the requested person within the 10 days is prevented by circumstances beyond the control of the Member State, the executing and issuing judicial authorities shall contact each other immediately and agree a new surrender date; the surrender shall take place within 10 days of the new agreed date. Article 23(4) relates to an exceptional situation and provides that surrender may exceptionally be temporarily postponed for serious humanitarian reasons, e.g., if there are substantial grounds for believing that it would manifestly endanger the requested person's life or health. The European arrest warrant shall be executed as soon as these grounds have ceased to exist. These sections give a degree of leeway to the authorities in certain circumstances. Article 23(5) provides, however, that upon expiry of the time limits referred to in paragraphs 23(2) and 23(4), if the person is still in custody, he shall be released.
Article 23 relates to the surrender after the “final decision” on the execution of the warrant. Such a decision is made by the Judicial Authority, in Ireland the High Court, or, on appeal, by the Supreme Court. As the final decision on the applicant’s appeal has not been made in this case this article does not apply to the applicant at this stage of the proceedings.
4.1 National Forms and Methods
Council Framework Decisions are not part of the domestic law. The exercise taken previously in construing the Council Framework Decision is, firstly, to further understanding of the document. Secondly, it is a relevant factor in the interpretation of the national law.
Council Framework Decisions are binding on the State as to the result to be achieved, and it is left to the national authorities to choose the form and method of implementation. Member States have implemented this Council Framework Decision. However, the forms and methods used have not been identical. This may be seen from a few examples.
Belgian legislation has prescribed very precise time limits – expressed in days and hours. An unofficial translation of that legislation provides as follows:-
If no decision is made within that period, the person concerned is released.
Article 16 § 1. Within 15 days of the arrest, the Council Chamber shall rule by a reasoned decision on the execution of the European arrest warrant, on a report of the investigating judge and having heard the King’s prosecutor and the person concerned assisted or represented by his lawyer.
. . .
§5. If the Council Chamber does not rule within the period stipulated in paragraph 1, the investigating judge orders the release of the person, unless the public prosecution service appeals this order within 24 hours before the Court’s indictment division in keeping with Article 17.
Article 17 §1. The person concerned and the public prosecution service can appeal the decision of the Council Chamber before the Court’s indictment division. The appeal must be made within 24 hours, beginning from the day of the decision for the public prosecution service and, for the person concerned, on the day on which it is served to him.
§2. The appeal is made by a declaration to the clerk of the Court of First Instance and is recorded in a register opened for that purpose.
. . .
§4. Within 15 days of the declaration referred to under §2, the Court’s indictment division rules on the appeal by a reasoned decision, having heard the King’s prosecutor and the person concerned assisted or represented by his lawyer. The division shall make the verification stipulated in Article 16 1§ (2) in order to make that ruling.
It appears that in a Belgian case, Cour de Cassation, French Section, 2nd Chamber, 28 December 2004 – No. P.04.1665.F, a defence has been argued that Article 16.1 of the Belgian law implementing the European arrest warrant, which requires the Chambre du Conseil to decide on the execution of the European arrest warrant within 15 days after the arrest, had been violated and that the procedure is thus unlawful. It appears that the non respect of the time limit provided for by Article 16.1 of the Belgian law of 19 December 2003 implementing the European arrest warrant resulted in the requested person’s release, but did not make the execution procedure unlawful.
§5. The decision on the appeal is communicated to the general prosecutor immediately and is served to the person concerned within 48 hours. The act served contains the notification to the person concerned of his right to appeal in cassation and the period during which this right must be exercised.
Article 18 §1. The decision on the appeal can be appealed in cassation by the public prosecution service and by the person concerned within a period of 24 hours, beginning from the day of the decision for the public prosecution service and, for the person concerned, on the day on which it is served to him.
§2. The dossier is transmitted to the clerk of the Cour de Cassation within 24 hours as from the time of the appeal. The arguments in cassation can be described wither in the act of the appeal, or in a written document lodged at that time, or in a memorandum that must reach the registry of the Cour de Cassation on the fifth day after the appeal in cassation at the latest.
§3. The Cour de Cassation rules within 15 days as from the date of appeal in cassation.
§4. After a ruling in cassation with referral, the Court’s indictment division to which the case is referred rules within 15 days as from pronouncement of the Cour de Cassation’s ruling.
§5. If the appeal in cassation is rejected, the decision of the Court’s indictment division on the execution of the European arrest warrant is immediately enforceable.
Legislation in the Netherlands provides for time limits as follows:
Thus while the time limits urged in the Council Framework Decision are followed, with the addition that the court is given a discretion to extend the time.
Article 22 (3)
“3. Exceptionally, provided reasons are given to the issuing judicial authority, the court may extend the term of sixty days by a maximum of thirty days.
4. If the court has still given no verdict within the period as per paragraph 3, the court may again extend the term indefinitely, while setting conditions for simultaneous suspension of the detention of the requested person, and notification of the issuing authority”.
4.4 United Kingdom
The United Kingdom, in the Extradition Act 2003 (c.41), makes provision for time limits. It also reflects the time limits in the Council Framework Decision, with the addition of power to the judge to extend time in the interests of justice. Section 75 states:
Thus while the time limits recommended in the Council Framework Decision are aspired to, the Court is given jurisdiction to extend the time limits in the interests of justice.
(1) When a person arrested under a warrant issued under section 71 first appears or is brought before the appropriate judge, the judge must fix a date on which the extradition hearing is to begin.
(2) The date fixed under subsection (1) must not be later than the end of the permitted period, which is 2 months starting with the date on which the person first appears or is brought before the judge.
(3) If before the date fixed under subsection (1) (or this subsection) a party to the proceedings applies to the judge for a later date to be fixed and the judge believes it to be in the interests of justice to do so, he may fix a later date; and this subsection may apply more than once.
(4) If the extradition hearing does not begin on or before the date fixed under this section and the person applies to the judge to be discharged, the judge must order his discharge”.
The complexities of a single European arrest warrant scheme in the Member States, albeit that they are purporting to implement the Council Framework Decision, are manifestly obvious. Each Member State has taken steps to implement the European arrest warrant, but in different ways. The Constitutions of Member States are relevant and determinative in some instances on issues relevant to the European arrest warrant.
In Ireland the Act of 2003 was enacted to implement the obligations arising from the State’s agreement to the Council Framework Decision. It is specifically stated in the long title that it is an Act to give effect to the Council Framework Decision and surrender procedures between Member States, to amend the Extradition Act, 1965 and certain other enactments, and to provide for connected matters. The Act of 2003 came into operation on the 1st January 2004.
Part 2 provides for the European arrest warrant. Specific references to the Council Framework Decision are made. Thus, pursuant to s. 9, for the purposes of a Framework Decision, the High Court shall be the executing judicial authority in the State. Section 10 provides, inter alia, that where a judicial authority in an issuing state duly issues a European arrest warrant in respect of a person that person shall, subject to and in accordance with the provisions of the Act of 2003 and the Council Framework Decision, be arrested and surrendered to the issuing state. A European arrest warrant shall, as far as is practicable, be in the form set out in the Annex to the Framework Decision and s. 11(1) sets out what shall be specified. Section 12 relates the transmission arrangements. Section 14 makes provision for arrest without a warrant on the grounds of urgency and is not relevant to this case. Section 15 makes provision for the situation when a person consents to a surrender, and is not relevant to this case.
Section 16 of the Act of 2003 provides that where a person has not consented to his surrender, as in this case, the High Court may, on such date as is fixed under s.13, make an order that such person be surrendered to such other person as is duly authorised by the issuing State to receive him/her, provided that, inter alia:
Section 13 provides for the bringing of a person before the High Court and the fixing of a date. The High Court may remand the person in custody or on bail, and under s. 13(5):
“(a) The High Court is satisfied that the person before it is the person in respect of whom the European arrest warrant was issued,
(b) The European arrest warrant, or a facsimile or true copy, has been endorsed in accordance with s.13 for execution of the warrant;
(c) Such undertakings as are required are provided to the court;
(d) The surrender of the person is not prohibited by Part 3 or the Framework Decision (including the recitals thereto).
Section 16 provides for the making of a surrender order.
“(b) fix a date for the purpose of Section 16 (being a date that falls not later than 21 days after the date of the person’s arrest),”
This is the order for surrender – but it does not take effect for a further 15 days: s.16 (3) and (4).
“16.—(1) Where a person does not consent to his or her surrender to the issuing state or has withdrawn his or her consent under section 15(9), the High Court may, upon such date as is fixed under section 13, make an order directing that the person be surrendered to such other person as is duly authorised by the issuing state to receive him or her provided that—
(a) the High Court is satisfied that the person before it is the person in respect of whom the European arrest warrant was issued,
(b) the European arrest warrant, or a facsimile or true copy thereof, has been endorsed in accordance with section 13 for execution of the warrant,
(c) such undertakings as are required under this Act, or facsimile or true copies thereof, are provided to the court.
(d) the surrender of the person is not prohibited by section 22, 23 or 24,
(e) the surrender of the person is not prohibited by Part 3 or the Framework Decision (including the recitals thereto).
. . .
A person shall be surrendered not later than 10 days after this time, subject to his right to make a complaint under subsection (6), or on humanitarian grounds under s.18: Section 16(5) and section 16(6). See subsection (5) and (6). However, once the time limit of 10 days has passed, and none of the exceptions apply, the person who is not surrendered shall be released. These subsections, relating to time limits after the final order, provide for mandatory release, but they do not apply in this case as no final order has been made.
The Act of 2003 does not establish mandatory time limits prior to the final order for surrender in the same way as it does to the period after the final order. Sections 16(10) and (11) state:
Thus the Act of 2003 makes it mandatory that after 60 days from the arrest the High Court shall direct the Central Authority to inform the issuing judicial authority and, where appropriate Eurojust, and that the Central Authority shall comply. This is a mandatory requirement of notice. There is no provision for release. The section does not give to an individual person the right to be released.
“(10) If the High Court has not, after the expiration of 60 days from the arrest of the person concerned under section 13 or 14, made an order under this section or section 15, or has decided not to make an order under this section, it shall direct the Central Authority in the State to inform the issuing judicial authority and, where appropriate, Eurojust in relation thereto and of the reasons therefore specified in the direction, and the Central Authority in the State shall comply with such direction.
(11) If the High Court has not, after the expiration of 90 days from the arrest of the person concerned under section 13 or 14, made an order under this section or section 15, or has decided not to make an order under this section, it shall direct the Central Authority in the State to inform the issuing judicial authority and, where appropriate, Eurojust in relation thereto and of the reason therefore specified in the direction, and the Central Authority in the State shall comply with such direction.”
6. Relationship between Council Framework Decisions and the National Law.
The relationship between Council Framework Decisions and the national law was considered in Pupino C-105/03, in a judgment of the Court (Grand Chamber) of 16 June 2005. This decision related to a different Framework Decision, but the principle is the same. The court held at paragraph 43:
It was remarked, however,
“43. In light of all the above considerations, the Court concludes that the principle of interpretation in conformity with Community law is binding in relation to framework decisions adopted in the context of Title VI of the Treaty on European Union. When applying national law, the national court that is called upon to interpret it must do so as far as possible in the light of the wording of the purpose of the framework decision in order to attain the result which it pursues and thus comply with Article 34(2)(b)EU”.
It was further pointed out in paragraph 47:
“44. It should be noted, however, that the obligation on the national court to refer to the content of a framework decision when interpreting the relevant rules of its national law is limited by general principles of law, particularly those of legal certainty and non-retroactively.”
Thus the national court when applying the national law should do so as far as possible in light of the Council Framework Decision, to attain the result sought. This can not be done if it is contrary to the national law, but the national court should consider the whole of the national law to see if it can be applied so as not to produce a result contrary to the Council Framework Decision.
“47. The obligation on the national court to refer to the content of a framework decision when interpreting the relevant rules of its national law ceases when the latter cannot receive an application which would lead to a result compatible with that envisaged by that framework decision. In other words, the principle of interpretation in conformity with Community law cannot serve as the basis for an interpretation of national law contra legem. That principle does, however, require that, where necessary, the national court consider the whole of national law in order to assess how far it can be applied in such a way as not to produce a result contrary to that envisaged by the framework decision.”
The facts of this case are as follows. On the 29th January 2004 a European arrest warrant was issued by Thames Magistrates Court in England by which the requesting State sought the arrest and surrender of the applicant for the purposes of conducting a criminal prosecution for the offence of murder. On the 2nd February 2004 the European arrest warrant was endorsed for execution by the High Court in Dublin. On the 11th February 2004 the applicant was arrested in Limerick. On the 11th February 2004 the applicant was brought before the High Court and remanded in custody pursuant to s. 13(5) of the Act of 2003, to the 27th February 2004, being the date fixed for the purposes of s. 16. On the 27th February 2004 the application under s. 16 was opened and adjourned, and the applicant was remanded in custody to the 12th March 2004. On the 12th March 2004 the application was adjourned to the 18th March 2004 and the applicant was remanded in custody. On the 18th March 2004 the application was adjourned to the 25th March 2004 and the applicant was remanded in custody. On the 18th March 2004 a certificate was issued by District Justice Frances J. McIvor of the Thames Magistrate Court in England relating to undertakings. On the 25th March 2004 a resumed hearing date was fixed and the applicant was remanded in custody. On the 14th May 2004 the High Court gave a reserved judgment (O’Caoimh J.) ordering that the applicant be surrendered. The applicant appealed to the Supreme Court. On the 24th February 2004 the applicant’s appeal was heard by the Supreme Court. On the 16th March 2005 the Supreme Court gave judgment and upheld the High Court order. On the 14th May the applicant brought further proceedings relating to the lawfulness of his detention. On the 5th day of May 2005 the High Court held that the applicant was detained in accordance with law, the High Court (O’Sullivan J.) having delivered a reserved judgment in the matter on 3rd May, 2005.
8. Judgment of the High Court
O’Sullivan J. held, inter alia at p.14:
9. Grounds of Appeal
“Bearing the foregoing in mind I approach the interpretation of the Framework Decision on the basis that while a European arrest warrant must be dealt with as a matter of urgency there is nonetheless in the Framework Decision itself an acknowledgment that the fundamental rights of a requested person which include a right to challenge the legal validity of the process must be respected (to use the word in recital 12) notwithstanding that this might cause delay in an instant case.
It is noteworthy that Article 23 which deals with time limits for the surrender of the person concerned after the final decision on the execution of the European arrest warrant has been made, does provide for his release if he is still being held in custody beyond the short time limits specified (save in exceptional circumstances which are identified). Such a requirement for release is notably absent from Article 17 which deals with time limits and procedures before the making of the final decision.
My conclusion is that the parties to the Framework Decision included the time limits before the final decision to express their determination that the extradition process would be speedy and that the Member States would be kept aware of each other’s standard of performance in this context. The time limits specified for surrender after the final decision are in a different category, namely, they are mandatory in principle with the result that the requested person is intended to be released if they are not complied with.”
On the 6th May 2005 the applicant appealed to this Court submitting that:
The appeal was heard on the 26th July 2005. Additional documents were sought, together with further submissions. These were furnished to the Court on the 4th October 2005, when judgment was reserved.
(i) The High Court erred in law and in fact in determining that the applicant was in lawful custody and so erred in failing to order his release.
(ii) The High Court erred in its interpretation of the Act of 2003 and the Council Framework Decision.
(iii) The High Court erred in its conclusion that where a decision on surrender has not been taken within the stipulated time limits the detention of the applicant continued to be lawful in the absence of an express provision requiring his release.
(iv) The High Court erred in requiring that a provision for a persons release should be spelled out clearly and unambiguously rather than requiring that a provision for his continued detention should be so spelled out.
(v) The High Court erred, while acknowledging the express respect afforded by the Council Framework Decision to the fundamental rights of arrested persons, in that it failed to have due regard to the right to liberty.
(vi) The High Court failed to interpret properly the Act of 2003 and the Council Framework Decision and in particular erred in failing to draw a reasonable interpretation that a failure to have a decision within the stipulated time limits caused the requests to lapse.
(vii) The High Court erred in law in failing to interpret the statute in a manner favourable to the applicant against whom a penal statute was involved.
In essence the applicant claims that time limits established under the European arrest warrant scheme have not been met by the judicial authorities in Ireland, and that as a consequence he is not in lawful custody and should be released. However, I am satisfied that this submission must fail and that the decision of the High Court should be affirmed.
The scheme established pursuant to the Council Framework Decision for a European arrest warrant is a new system of surrender of persons across European national boundaries. It is a system which was proposed to simplify and cause less delay than the previous extradition arrangements between the Member States of the European Union.
The Council Framework Decision, as set out previously, mandates that the European arrest warrant be dealt with urgently. This fundamental concept was transposed into the Act of 2003, subject to the precise terms of the Act and the fundamental rights of the applicant.
The Council Framework Decision urged strongly that the decision on the request be made within 60 days, which time limit could be extended for a further 30 days. The Act of 2003 reflects the aspiration that the matter be dealt with in such a time frame by its procedures and by requiring the High Court to direct the Central Authority to inform the issuing judicial authority (and, where appropriate, Eurojust) that an order has not been made within this time frame. A similar mandatory requirement of the High Court exists to direct the Central Authority to inform the issuing judicial authority after a further 30 days.
The Act of 2003 makes provisions aspiring to have the matter dealt with urgently. However, the court has the duty to ensure that there are fair procedures, which encompass all issues going to due process. This includes such issues as enabling time to obtain undertakings from the issuing judicial authority, and enabling time to appeal, both of which occurred in this case. Thus, the hearing in the High Court was adjourned to obtain undertakings. And, subsequently, the applicant took proceedings in the High Court and on appeal to this Court. Thus the rights of the applicant have been preserved, but the aspired to time limits have been exceeded.
In this there is no conflict between the Council Framework Decision and the Act of 2003. The expressed policy of the Council Framework Decision that European arrest warrants be addressed urgently is clearly the policy of the Act of 2003. The exhortation in the Council Framework Decision of time limits of 60 days and a further 30 days up to the making of the surrender order is a strongly worded recommendation reflected in the Act of 2003, which establishes an appropriate procedure and mandates the giving of notice if such time limits are exceeded. However, the process remains at all times subject to the requirement of fairness and access to the courts, including the right of appeal. There is no mandated time limit of 60 days (or 90 days) prior to the final order. Consequently the applicant is not in unlawful custody.
It is unfortunate that it has not been possible to process the request more expeditiously. However, the applicant has exercised his right of access to the courts fully. The applicant pursued an initial case in the High Court and then an appeal to the Supreme Court. He subsequently brought a further case in the High Court and on appeal to this Court. Thus he has exercised his rights to contest the matter, and to appeal the decision of the High Court, on two occasions.
The issue of the time limit after the final order has not arisen in this case, as the applicant’s appeal has not concluded.
For the reasons given I would dismiss the appeal and affirm the order of the High Court.