The House of Lords has today confirmed that Ian Norris, former chief executive of Morgan Crucible, will not be extradited to the US on the charge of price-fixing. As the first British citizen to face extradition on price-fixing charges, this landmark ruling marks a significant point in the global crackdown on international cartels.
Antitrust expert Bernardine Adkins says, "While Norris may have triumphed in his appeal against the extradition order, this victory may be short-lived. He is still wanted in the US for obstruction of justice charges. Norris's future and continued residence in the United Kingdom remains as uncertain as ever."
The American Department of Justice sought Norris's extradition on charges of price-fixing following allegations of conspiracy to rig prices in the carbon components of trains market. He also faces charges of hampering a subsequent investigation by obliterating evidence. Norris would have been the first Britain to face extradition for a price-fixing charge.
The House of Lords strictly applied the requirements for extradition under the Extradition Act 2003. Effective from 1 January 2004, an extradition may only be granted if the alleged criminal behaviour is a crime in both Britain and the United States when it is committed and carries a sentence of more than 12 months in jail.
Now a criminal offence in Britain, the Law Lords confirmed that price-fixing was not classified as such before section 188 Enterprise Act 2002 came into force on 20 June 2003. The House endorsed the requirement that British citizens may only suffer extradition if their offence was classed as a crime in both jurisdictions at the time it was committed. It confirmed that the Enterprise Act 2002 could not have retrospective effect.
Bernardine adds, "While executives facing similar extradition charges over cartels pre-dating June 2003 may be breathing a sigh of relief, they'd be wrong to relax. This ruling confirms that British citizens may still face extradition if their offence was classed as a crime in both jurisdictions at the time it was committed. That is certainly the case with respect to cartels since June 2003."
The matter will now be remitted to the district judge to re-evaluate Norris's extradition in the light of the Lords' ruling.