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Judicial Cooperation

On 29 March 2017, the United Kingdom (UK) officially notified the European Council of its intention to leave the European Union (EU) and, after successive extensions, this withdrawal finally took place on 31 January 2020.

A Transition Period ran from 1 February 2020 until 31 December 2020, during which time, without prejudice to the consequences of the withdrawal of the UK from the EU, as regards its participation in EU institutions, bodies and organisations, EU law, including international treaties, were applicable thereto and within the United Kingdom, with the same effects vis-à-vis Member States.

The EU has a set of instruments for mutual recognition, which have allowed a very flexible system of direct judicial cooperation to be designed based on the principle of mutual trust between judicial authorities.

Judicial cooperation on civil matters is fully subject to EU law, pursuant to Article 81 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, and its most important provisions are governed by EU Regulations approved on the matter.

As regards criminal judicial cooperation, significant progress has been made at an EU level, applying highly flexible direct judicial cooperation procedures for the handover of detainees, and the gathering of evidence, among others. Accordingly, when the judicial authorities of one State request the handover of a suspect or sentenced person from the judicial authorities of another State, they do so based on a European Arrest Warrant. Similarly, when the judicial authorities of one State request investigation activities to be carried out in the territory of another Member State, these are based on a European Evidence Warrant. Joint investigation teams can also be set up based on EU instruments, so that investigators from different Member State can work together on the same case. Similarly, so that the judicial authorities of one State may be aware of the sentences imposed in another State.

During the Transition Period, judicial cooperation between the United Kingdom and Spain has continued to develop within the EU area of freedom, security and justice.

However, as from 1 January 2021, EU instruments will cease to apply and judicial cooperation will be based on the multilateral agreements that apply to both countries.

On civil matters, judicial cooperation between Spain and the UK will be governed on a general basis by the international conventions adopted within the framework of The Hague Conference on Private International Law.

Specifically, the following conventions will apply, among others:

- 1965 Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters

- 1970 Convention on the Taking of Evidence Abroad in Civil or Commercial Matters

- 1980 Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction

- 1996 Convention on Jurisdiction, Applicable Law, Recognition, Enforcement and Cooperation in respect of Parental Responsibility and Measures for the Protection of Children

- 2005 Convention on Choice of Court Agreements

- 2007 Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and other Forms of Family Maintenance

On criminal matters, the provisions of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement between the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Agency, on the one hand, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, on the other hand, will apply, and, in those matters not regulated therein, by international convention adopted within the framework of the Council of Europe and the United Nations.

Specifically, the following conventions will apply, among others:

Council of Europe:

- 1959 European Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters

- 1983 Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons

- 2001 Convention on Cybercrime

United Nations:

- 1988 Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances

- 2000 Convention against Transnational Organized Crime

- 2003 Convention against Corruption

Non official translation


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