30th April 2021
The Supreme Court has today given judgment in the case of Zabolotnyi v Mateszalka District Court, Hungary. In an appeal concerning the conditions of Hungarian prisons, the Court was asked to decide on the approach to be taken in assessing and relying on assurances concerning the prison conditions given by the Hungarian authorities.
The Supreme Court considered whether or not there is a heightened test for the admissibility of evidence concerning alleged breaches. It unanimously held that no such test existed concerning alleged breaches of assurances given to a third state.
Evidence of past non-compliance with an earlier assurance will be relevant to the assessment of the court whether or not the assurance was given to the UK or another country and a state’s failure to comply with its assurances may be a good reason not to believe that its assurances will be fulfilled in the future. For that reason the Divisional Court was wrong to adopt a heightened test for the admissibility of this evidence.
However Mr Zabolotnyi’s appeal was dismissed on the basis that the Divisional Court had been bound by Section 27 of the Extradition Act 2003 to uphold the District Judge’s extradition order because the fresh evidence could not have been considered decisive in the Appellant’s favour.
This is an important decision in which the Supreme Court maintained the principle that there should a free evaluation of all the evidence before a court and past breaches of assurances either provided to the UK or another country are always relevant to the question whether the requesting state can be relied upon to comply with its assurances.
Benjamin Seifert was led by Jonathan Hall QC of 6KBW College Hill.