A recent English High Court decision has allowed the extradition to America of alleged cartelists. The case, Ian Norris, highlights the broad interpretation taken by the English courts, even where the offending conduct took place before the introduction of the statutory cartel offence in 2003.

The recent decision of the English High Court in the Ian Norris case has highlighted how broadly UK courts will interpret the law in permitting the extradition of individuals to face cartel participation charges in the USA. Ian Norris, the former Chief Executive of the Morgan Crucible engineering group, was appealing a decision of a District Judge and the Secretary of State to allow his extradition to the US to face charges relating to participation in a carbon cartel for over a decade and obstructing the course of justice.

The High Court found that the District Judge had come to the correct decision and the extradition should go ahead. In so doing they relied on the common law offence of conspiracy to defraud, since the offending conduct is alleged to have taken place before the introduction of the statutory cartel offence (contained in the Enterprise Act 2003). Furthermore, it is irrelevant that the US offence of price fixing, set out in the Sherman Act, does not require dishonesty as an element of the offence. The new Extradition Act 2003 requires only that a domestic court establish that conduct cited in a US warrant constitutes an offence in the UK. If it does, the court is entitled to extradite the accused.

The case highlights the vulnerable position of cartelists, even where offending conduct took place before the introduction of the statutory cartel offence in 2003. Mr Norris is said to be considering an appeal to the House of Lords in order to avoid the lengthy criminal proceedings across the Atlantic.