In re Nielsen: HL 1984

The House considered the role of the metropolitan magistrate under section 9 and 10 of the 1870 Act in the context of an application for extradition under the treaty between Denmark and the United Kingdom. At section 9 hearings it had been the invariable practice, ‘so far as living memory stretches’, for the magistrate to receive evidence of the law of the requesting state designed to show that the offence of which the fugitive was accused in that state was ‘substantially similar’ or ‘similar in concept’ to the relevant extradition offence, as construed according to English law.
Held: In an application for extradition, it was for the Secretary of State to specify the crime or crimes for which the fugitive criminal’s extradition was being requested, and the District Judge had no jurisdiction to inquire into or receive evidence of the criminal law of the foreign state. It did not however follow that the District Judge was confined by the way in which the case was described in the order to proceed as to the category into which the appellant’s case fell.
The list of exradition crimes provided in the schedule, described the 19 ‘extradition crimes’ in general terms and popular language.
Lord Diplock said: ‘[T]he magistrate is not concerned with what provision of foreign criminal law (if any) is stated in the warrant to be the offence which the person was suspected of having committed and in respect of which his arrest was ordered in the foreign state.’

Lord Diplock
[1984] AC 606, [1984] 2 All ER 81, (1983) 79 Cr App R 1, [1984] 2 WLR 737
Extradition Act 1870 10
England and Wales
Cited by:
CitedIn re Guisto (application for a writ of Habeas Corpus) (Criminal Appeal from Her Majesty’s High Court of Justice) HL 3-Apr-2003
The applicant challenged an order for his extradition to the US. He had been convicted in his absence having absconded from bail.
Held: He had been arrested and held on the basis that he was a convicted person, but the procedure should have . .
CitedOffice of the King’s Prosecutor, Brussels v Cando Armas and others HL 17-Nov-2005
The defendant resisted extradition to Brussels saying that the offence had been committed in part in England. He had absconded and been convicted. Application was made for his return to serve his sentence. The offences associated with organisation . .
CitedNorris v United States of America and others HL 12-Mar-2008
The detainee appealed an order for extradition to the USA, saying that the offence (price-fixing) was not one known to English common law. The USA sought his extradition under the provisions of the Sherman Act.
Held: It was not, and it would . .
PreferredRegina v Secretary of State for Home Department ex Parte Admn 3-Mar-1997
The section imposed the conduct test as set out in Nielsen, not the narrower approach adopted in Aronson. . .
CitedVB and Others v Westminster Magistrates SC 5-Nov-2014
Extraditions to follow normal open justice rules
Application was made by Rwanda for the extradition of four individuals to face crimes said to have been committed during their civil war. Witnesses were prepared to give evidence but only in private and not being seen by the representatives of . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Crime, Extradition

Leading Case

Updated: 31 October 2021; Ref: scu.180427