Supreme Court quashes Italian extradition order: Edward Fitzgerald KC and Graeme Hall appear 

On 6 March 2024, the Supreme Court handed down judgment in Bertino v Italy [2024] UKSC 9 and concluded that the lower courts were wrong to find that Mr Bertino had deliberately absented himself from his trial in Italy. As Mr Bertino is not entitled to a retrial in Italy, his extradition was barred by section 20 of the Extradition Act 2003, and he was discharged.

The Supreme Court held that for a person to deliberately absent himself from his trial, he must unequivocally waive, in a knowing and intelligent way, his right to attend trial. In so doing, the Supreme Court overturned the principle that had developed in English caselaw since 2016 that a person will be deliberately absent where he demonstrates a “manifest lack of diligence” which results in his ignorance of the trial. 

On the facts, the Supreme Court concluded that Mr Bertino did not unequivocally waive his right to attend trial. By the time Mr Bertino left Italy for the UK, he knew that he was a suspect under investigation and that he was obliged to inform the Italian police of any change of address, which he did not do. However, Mr Bertino had not been charged, questioned or arrested; the decision to prosecute was not taken until two years after the original allegation; he was not officially informed that he was to be prosecuted or notified of the scheduled trial; and, he was not informed that a trial could go ahead in his absence. 

Edward Fitzgerald KC and Graeme Hall were instructed by Ieva Giedraityte of Lloyds PR Solicitors.