The Coronavirus Act 2020 has amended the Extradition Act 2003 (“the 2003 Act”) to temporarily extend the use of live-link technology in extradition proceedings. For two years from the date of commencement, 25 March 2020, a person may attend extradition proceedings by live link where the judge is satisfied that “it is in the interests of justice to do so”.
As of late March 2020, Westminster Magistrates’ Court has been hearing only high priority matters relating to arrest warrants issued under the 2003 Act, while preparations for remote hearings have been underway. Despite the provision for remote hearings, a number of high-profile extradition hearings have been adjourned to a later date, including that of Julian Assange. The impact of the restrictions on the ability of requested persons to instruct counsel and to effectively participate in proceedings mean it is uncertain how many hearings will meet the “in the interests of justice” threshold.