The Law Society has highlighted the potential issues that leaving the EU without an agreement could have on the judicial system.
Christine Blacklaws, The Society’s president, said last week that a no-deal will make it harder to investigate cross-border crime and arrest suspects: “Under the EAW criminals can easily be repatriated to their home state, but if the UK exits without a deal we may end up relying on a treaty from the 1950s. Even where the 1957 European Extradition Convention is still in place, the process is lengthy, costly and taxpayers will end up footing the bill – Switzerland still uses it so the evidence of the system’s defects are there for all to see.
“The absence of clear guidance or information about contingency planning when it comes to criminal justice is deeply troubling as there will be immediate consequences from a no deal and any new agreements can only be forged once Britain has left the EU leaving a significant gap in our ability to fight crime and terrorism.”
Blacklaw also highlighted that a no-deal would also make it more difficult for victims to get compensation.
At present, the UK has several agreements with the 27 members states to facilitate cooperation in fighting crime and terrorism, including:
- European Arrest Warrant (EAW) – this speeds up requests by one member state to another for the surrender of accused or convicted people
- European Investigation Order (EIO) – which facilitates the gathering of evidence in another member state of the EU
- Europol – this agency supports member states’ responses to cross-border crime
- EU Judicial cooperation unit (Eurojust) – coordinates investigation and prosecution of cross border crime.
The above agreements would come to an end following a no-deal Brexit on 29th March.
Blacklaw also commented: “If on 29 March we crash out of the EU without a deal among the only people cheering will be criminals and those who wish us harm. It will be harder to investigate cross-border crime, harder to arrest suspects and remove them to face justice, harder to get compensation for victims.
“At the moment of departure, when it comes to criminal justice, all manner of issues will be left unresolved and solicitors will have to pick their way through 27 different justice systems instead of just one – the EU’s.”
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