Atkinson v Government of the United States: HL 1969

The House heard an appeal from the magistrates’ refusal to commit the accused in the course of extradition proceedings.
Held: There is no abuse of process jurisdiction in extradition proceedings. There is no power to state a case in relation to committal proceedings.
Lord Reid said: ‘It is now well recognised that the court has power to expand procedure laid down by statute if that is necessary to prevent infringement of natural justice and is not plainly contrary to the intention of Parliament. There can be cases where it would clearly be contrary to natural justice to surrender a man although there is sufficient evidence to justify committal. Extradition may be either because the man is accused of an extradition crime or because he has been convicted in the foreign country of an extradition crime. It is not unknown for convictions to be obtained in a few foreign countries by improper means, and it would be intolerable if a man so convicted had to be surrendered. Parliament can never have so intended when the Act of 1980 was passed. But the Act does provide a safeguard. The Secretary of State always has power to refuse to surrender a man committed to prison by the magistrate. It appears to me that Parliament must have intended the Secretary of State to use that power whenever in his view it would be wrong, unjust or oppressive to surrender the man.’
Lord Upjohn said: ‘Of course, in a most literal sense, in making an order of committal the magistrates are making a judicial order or determination; it is a judicial proceeding and it is an order or determination in the sense that in the result the accused then stands his trial . . But here there is no judicial determination of the rights of the parties in that sense; no ‘rights’ are decided. All that the committing magistrates have ‘decided’ or ‘determined’ is that there is prima facie case which should go before the adjudicating tribunal; they are acting judicially but they are not truly an adjudicating body at this stage, they are merely carrying out a step in the complex of proceedings which by our law precedes the trial of an indictable offence.’


Lord Reid, Lord Upjohn


[1971] AC 197, [1969] 3 All ER 1317


Extradition Act 1980


England and Wales

Cited by:

CitedRegina (Kashamu) v Governor of Brixton Prison and Another; Regina (Kashamu) v Bow Street Magistrates’ Court; Regina (Makhlulif and Another) v Bow Street Magistrates’ Court QBD 23-Nov-2001
Where a magistrates’ court heard an application for extradition, it was within its proper ambit to assess the lawfulness of the detention of the suspect in the light of the Human Rights Convention, but not to stray onto issues which were only for . .
AppliedRegina v Governor of Pentonville Prison, Ex parte Sinclair; Sinclair v Director of Public Prosecutions HL 1991
The applicant had left the USA after conviction, but before his prison term commenced, and a warrant issued. Nine years later he was arrested in the UK, and extradition sought. He said that the extradition was time-barred under the Order. The . .
AppliedStreames v Copping 1985
The court considered the power to require magistrates to state a case on an interloctory issue.
Held: Where the Justices had not made a final determination they had no jurisdiction to state a case. Section 111 applies only to a final . .
CitedDonnachie, Regina (on the Application of) v Cardiff Magistrates’ Court Admn 27-Jul-2007
The defendant appealed refusal of the district judge to state a case on the basis of having no jurisdiction.
Held: Where the magistrate is acting not as an Examining Magistrate, but is deciding a preliminary issue as to jurisdiction, his . .
CitedLukaszewski v The District Court In Torun, Poland SC 23-May-2012
Three of the appellants were Polish citizens resisting European Arrest Warrants. A fourth (H), a British citizen, faced extradition to the USA. An order for the extradition of eachhad been made, and acting under advice each filed a notice of appeal . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Extradition, Natural Justice, Magistrates

Updated: 28 April 2022; Ref: scu.180562