Language of document : ECLI:EU:C:2018:383


30 May 2018 (*)

(Expedited procedure)

In Case C‑191/18,

REQUEST for a preliminary ruling under Article 267 TFEU from the Supreme Court (Ireland), made by decision of 12 March 2018, received at the Court on 16 March 2018, in the proceedings



Minister for Justice and Equality,


having heard the views of the Judge-Rapporteur, C.G. Fernlund, and of the Advocate General, H. Saugmandsgaard Øe,

makes the following


1        This request for a preliminary ruling concerns the interpretation of Article 50 TEU and of Council Framework Decision 2002/584/JHA of 13 June 2002 on the European arrest warrant and the surrender procedures between Member States (OJ 2002 L 190, p. 1), as amended by Council Framework Decision 2009/299/JHA of 26 February 2009 (OJ 2009 L 81, p. 24) (‘Framework Decision 2002/584’).

2        The request has been made in connection with the execution, in Ireland, of a European arrest warrant issued by a court in the United Kingdom against KN.

3        It is apparent from the order for reference that KN had been found guilty, on 26 October 2006, of two tax fraud offences and sentenced in respect of these, on 29 January 2007, to two concurrent prison sentences of four years and six months respectively.

4        However, KN absconded to Ireland while on bail awaiting sentence.

5        A first European arrest warrant against KN was issued in the United Kingdom with a view, first, to the execution of those sentences and, second, to conducting a criminal prosecution on the basis of KN’s failure to surrender. The referring court states that, for reasons not relevant to the present case, KN was not surrendered.

6        On 13 June 2011, a second European arrest warrant was issued in the United Kingdom in respect of KN, based, essentially, on the same grounds as the first European arrest warrant. On 22 June 2011, the High Court (Ireland), acting in its capacity as executing judicial authority, decided to hand KN over.

7        KN brought an action claiming that the legal aid scheme in Ireland was contrary to the Irish Constitution. He also claimed that his surrender violated the national legislation implementing the European arrest warrant. By decision of 30 March 2017, the Supreme Court (Ireland) dismissed the actions brought by KN.

8        KN’s surrender was, first, postponed, at his request, on humanitarian grounds, then, on 5 May 2017, KN once again contested the lawfulness of his surrender, raising the issue of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union.

9        On 25 July 2017, the High Court considered that that issue did not prevent KN’s surrender and decided that he should be surrendered.

10      KN was, however, given leave to appeal against that decision to the Supreme Court in view of the important and urgent nature of the issue raised thereby.

11      The Supreme Court notes that, leaving aside the issue of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union, there is no basis on which to refuse the surrender of KN, and that, unless KN’s argument on that matter is well founded, his surrender must be ordered.

12      That court adds that, if KN were to be surrendered, he would, in all likelihood, still be in prison in the United Kingdom after 29 March 2019, the date on which the United Kingdom is scheduled to withdraw from the European Union.

13      It is true that transitional agreements may be entered into in order to regulate such situations in the period immediately following that date. More generally, it cannot be excluded that agreements may be established between the European Union and the United Kingdom in order to govern the future relationship between the parties in areas such as that covered by Framework Decision 2002/584.

14      However, there remains uncertainty in that regard and it is not clear whether a European citizen in the United Kingdom will, after the withdrawal of that Member State from the European Union, still have the right to request that the Court rule, pursuant to Article 267 TFEU, on possible questions of EU law that might arise in the context of court actions.

15      The Supreme Court notes that KN was able to point to only two aspects of the regime which would apply to him in which points of EU law might theoretically be raised. The first is the so-called ‘rule of speciality’, referred to in Article 27 of Framework Decision 2002/584. The second concerns the right to deduction of the period of detention served in the executing Member State, provided for in Article 26 of Framework Decision 2002/584. The referring court points out in this regard that KN was briefly detained in Ireland in the context of the first European arrest warrant issued by the United Kingdom against him.

16      The referring court is uncertain whether, for the purposes of ruling on the surrender of a person, it is necessary to assess the extent to which that person runs a material or merely theoretical risk that one of the rights which he has under EU law will be affected following the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union.

17      In those circumstances, the national court decided to stay the proceedings and to submit a request to the Court of Justice for a preliminary ruling on the interpretation of Framework Decision 2002/584 in the light of Article 50 TEU.

18      The referring court has also requested that the Court of Justice apply an expedited procedure to the present case pursuant to Article 105(1) of its Rules of Procedure.

19      While acknowledging that the nature of the dispute in the main proceedings is not sufficient in itself to justify such a procedure, that the fact that KN remains at liberty does not support the application of such a procedure, and the fact that neither the interests of legal certainty nor the number of cases concerned constitute exceptional circumstances, the referring court nonetheless highlights the necessary and urgent nature of its request for a preliminary ruling. It states, in this regard, that in the very near future, and in particular if the expedited procedure is not applied in the present case, other similar cases currently before the High Court, several of which concern persons in custody, may be brought before the Supreme Court and justify fresh requests for a preliminary ruling.

20      In that regard, it must be found that the Supreme Court has rightly noted that the application of the expedited procedure does not depend on the nature of the case as such, nor on the number of persons or legal positions potentially concerned by the questions referred for a preliminary ruling, but on exceptional circumstances particular to the case in question which must establish that a ruling on those questions is a matter of exceptional urgency (see, to that effect, order of the President of the Court of 20 December 2017, M.A. and Others, C‑661/17, not published, EU:C:2017:1024, paragraphs 17 and 20).

21      However, with regard to the case in the main proceedings, the Supreme Court has not established the existence of exceptional circumstances particular to KN’s situation which are capable of demonstrating exceptional urgency. First, the fact that the United Kingdom may, in the near future, no longer form part of the European Union and, as the case may be, no longer be subject to EU law, particularly to the provisions of Framework Decision 2002/584, does not in itself create a situation of urgency for the parties in the main proceedings (see, to that effect, order of the President of the Court of 20 December 2017, M.A. and Others, C‑661/17, not published, EU:C:2017:1024, paragraph 19). Second, it is clear from the order for reference that KN is currently not in custody. Lastly, KN has provided no specific details as to how the rights which he derives from Framework Decision 2002/584 might be adversely affected, in the future, by the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union.

22      Moreover, the fact, noted by the Supreme Court, that cases similar to that in the main proceedings, involving, as it may be, persons in custody, could give rise to fresh requests for a preliminary ruling is not relevant for the purposes of assessing whether the present case warrants an urgent reply.

23      In the light of the foregoing, it must be held that none of the grounds put forward by the national court in support of its request that the present case be determined pursuant to the expedited procedure justifies the granting of that request. Accordingly, that request must be refused.

24      It is also important to emphasise that this refusal does not in any way prejudge the decision that might be taken by the Court in the context of any new case raising similar questions of law as regards the application of that procedure.

On those grounds, the President of the Court hereby orders:

The request by the Supreme Court (Ireland) that Case C191/18 be determined pursuant to the expedited procedure provided for in Article 105(1) of the Rules of Procedure of the Court of Justice is refused.

Luxembourg, 30 May 2018.

A. Calot Escobar


K. Lenaerts




*      Language of the case: English.