International and Comparative Law Quarterly

Current Developments: Public International Law

I. Conflicts of Criminal Jurisdiction

Colin Warbrick and Kate Brookson-Morris*

The expansion of claims of extended territorial and extraterritorial criminal legislative jurisdiction and the increasing facility with which States are able to obtain custody over defendants by way of more effective extradition arrangements is leading to a new problem in transnational criminal law. The result of these developments is that more than one State may have legitimate jurisdiction to legislate for the same conduct and the courts of more than one State may be entitled to exercise judicial jurisdiction over those persons charged with crimes arising from that conduct. For prosecutors, the problem may present itself as one of prosecutorial efficiency—how may the case be proceeded with expeditiously, in particular, in which jurisdiction is a conviction most likely to be secured? Considerations such as the availability of witnesses or the admissibility of evidence may influence the prospects of conviction and prospective punishments may be a factor when deciding in which system prosecutors prefer the case to go ahead. Defendants have different perspectives. In many cases involving extradition to face a charge based on an exercise of extended jurisdiction, the defendant will be removed from the place where he lives and works to another State. There may be adverse consequences for him compared to facing a trial where he is usually located. Criminal proceedings abroad will be in an unfamiliar legal system; bail may be harder to obtain because of a perceived greater danger of flight; the impossibility to continue working during the period in which the trial is being prepared may impose financial hardship; defendants will be removed from their families and social networks for considerable periods.

Footnotes

* PhD Candidate, University of Birmingham.