The most intrusive form of judicial cooperation in criminal matters is extradition. This means the transfer of a prosecuted or convicted person to a foreign state at the request of that state. Within the European Union, the system of extradition has been replaced by a simplified system of surrender by means of the European Arrest Warrant. With the United Kingdom, extradition has been carried out since Brexit in accordance with the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) by way of a newly created EU-UK arrest warrant (for details, please see the special issue of the New Journal of European Criminal Law, co-edited by Anna Oehmichen jointly with Wolfgang Schomburg in Spring 2021, online available at here).
We advise and represent both sides, i.e. prosecuted persons arrested in Germany on the basis of a foreign request as well as prosecuted persons arrested abroad on the basis of a German extradition request or European Arrest Warrant, and work closely with colleagues in the respective other (requesting or requested) state in these cases.
However, judicial cooperation in criminal matters is more than just extraditing a suspect or convicted person to a foreign country. Other forms of intergovernmental cooperation in criminal matters fall under the legal field of Mutual Legal Assistance or MLA and require in-depth knowledge and experience.
In addition to extradition and surrender by means of the European Arrest Warrant, this includes, for example:
Witness hearings abroad, also by video/audio transmission;
requests for investigations and the gathering of evidence (e.g. cross-border telecommunications surveillance or questioning of suspects abroad), within the EU by means of the European Investigation Order (EIO);
provisional seizures and confiscations (i.e. the “freezing” of bank accounts); as well as
Requests for transfer of sentences, e.g. if a convicted person prefers to serve his sentence in his home country.
The interplay of bilateral, international and supranational (EU) legal instruments (framework decisions, directives, regulations) as well as national provisions makes this exotic matter a challenge for many legal practitioners, especially since the case law of the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg and the European Court of Human Rights must also be taken into account. We are one of the few law firms in Germany with many years of experience and expertise in this very specialised area of law.