Through the findings of the joint ECBA, JUSTICE, and ICJ report European arrest warrants: ensuring an effective defence (2012) and the on-going experience of ECBA members, it is clear that many requested persons in European arrest warrant (EAW) proceedings seek the assistance of a publicly funded lawyer. This lawyer will often be assigned to the case from a general duty appointment list for criminal proceedings. They may only have to represent one or two EAW clients a year through publicly funded work, or even fewer. Although this enables persons without the means to pay for legal advice to access free legal representation, there is a risk that the lawyer will be unable to provide a quality defence through lack of training and expertise in extradition law. In addition to that in some Member States there is no extradition specialisation, therefore privately hired lawyers will also lack experience in EAW cases.

The ECBA Handbook on the EAW is therefore designed to provide preliminary information about what an EAW is, how the European Union intends it to operate through its establishing Framework Decision of 2002, and since 2010 through further Directives on certain procedural safeguards, what rights the concerned requested individuals have and what the role of the defence lawyer is in these proceedings to enable persons to be effectively defended. In particular, it explains which options of defence are available for a requested person under the Framework Decision and in terms of fundamental and human rights and certain procedural safeguards established in the new EU Directives that are already or have to be implemented into national law. Throughout the handbook we highlight significant cases of the Court of Justice of the European Union, and where appropriate, the European Court of Human Rights, to help explain the meaning of the Framework Decision. Where we think it is helpful we provide links to further information that will deepen your understanding of the principles that apply in these cases.

The ECBA Handbook on the EAW is an on-going project and will be supplemented with national chapters providing information on the implementing laws and practices in each EU Member State. Defence practitioners should be aware that national law and national jurisprudence might open additional options to argue in an EAW case. We hope to provide the readers of this handbook with these national chapters soon.

The ECBA Handbook on the EAW is designed for defence lawyers as a preliminary and quick guide when they are in a situation to give legal advice in a European Arrest Warrant case at short notice. However, it cannot replace individual careful research and analysis of facts, applicable law and (national) jurisprudence and practices.

We hope that this guide proves useful!

If you have any comments or queries about the handbook, please contact

Holger Matt

Chair of the ECBA