Sumption to lead last-ditch Norris extradition hearing at Supreme Court

The UK’s extradition treaty with the US will be under the legal spotlight again on Monday when nine Supreme Court justices will gather to decide whether businessman Ian Norris should face charges in the US for obstruction of justice.

Brick Court’s Jonathan Sumption QC won a case for Norris in the House of Lords in March 2008 when five Law Lords ruled that Norris, a former chief executive of FTSE250 company Morgan Crucible, should not be extradited to face charges relating to a price-fixing cartel.

Instructed by White & Case partner Alistair Graham, Sumption successfully argued that Norris had not breached US law because the price fixing was not made an offence until 2003 and could not be applied retrospectively (The Lawyer 17 March 2008).

The House of Lords, however, ruled that the subsidiary charge of obstruction of justice brought by the DoJ remained an extraditable offence and referred this back to the magistrates court.

In July 2008, it ruled that Norris should be extradited to face charges in the US. That ruling was upheld by the Divisional Court in May, but the court referred the point of law on human rights to be considered by the Supreme Court.

Sumption will argue that to extradite the 67-year-old would be an infringement of his human rights under Article 8 of the Human Rights Act, arguing that he has a right to family life in the UK where his wife is based.

“The appointment of a nine-strong panel of Justices demonstrates the significance of this case,” Graham of White & Case said.

The US Department of Justice has instructed 6 Kings Bench Walk’s David Perry QC. Civil rights group Liberty has instructed Richard Hermer QC to act as an intervenor in support of Norris.