On 5th December 2022 in a US extradition case Mr Justice Chamberlain determined that a District Judge had been wrong to conclude that prison conditions in Texas do not present a real risk of inhuman and degrading treatment contrary to Art 3 ECHR.

This case is significant because for the first time it considered the correct application of ECHR standards (and in particular, the Mursic space standards) on non-contracting states. The US authorities, represented by David Perry KC, sought to rely upon the dicta of Lord Brown in Wellington v USA [2008] UKHL 72 and the recent decision of the ECHR in Sanchez-Sanchez (App. No. 20863/21) to contend that a relativist approach should be adopted and that the Mursic test is not therefore binding. Chamberlain J accepted that whether conduct might amount to a breach of Article 3 involves an assessment which is fact-specific and contextual. However, he held that:

‘there is no reason why it would be inappropriate to apply’ Mursic to extradition to the US and ‘there is no convincing reason of principle why accommodation that falls below Article 3 standards because of inadequate personal space in a contracting state should be held not to breach such standards in a case concerning extradition to the US’ [70].

Accordingly, he concluded that there is a real risk of Art 3 ill-treatment in Texas prisons by reason of insufficiency of space and extreme temperatures. An ‘Aranyosi’ request for further information is to be transmitted and final determination of the appeal is adjourned.

Extradition barrister Rebecca Hill was instructed by Aurindam Majundar of Paytons Solicitors.

Rebecca Hill is a leading practitioner in extradition and international crime who has worked at the forefront of this niche area for more than a decade. Rebecca’s significant expertise in human rights and European law complements her public law practice in which she represents individuals in challenges against the State and the Government. She regularly acts in cases of the utmost gravity before all levels of Court including the Divisional and Administrative Court and the European Court of Human Rights. Rebecca is ranked in Chambers and Partners as a band 2 leader in the field of Extradition at the London Bar and is also ranked in tier 2 in The Legal 500. It is a mark of her experience and expertise that she has been consistently recognised since 2009.