Our attention has been drawn to another permission decision of the Supreme Court, given on 5 November 2009, refused permission to appeal in the case of Owens v City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court  ([2009] EWHC 1343 (Admin)).  We have previously mentioned this case as it was the first notice of appeal to be lodged in the Supreme Court office when it opened for business on 20 August 2009.  Permission was refused 11 weeks later.

This was an extradition case in which the High Court an upheld the order for extradition on 15 May 2009 and had refused  to certify a point of law of general public importance.  As a result, the decision of the High Court was final and that triggered the commencement 10-day removal period under section 35-36 of the Extradition Act 2003. But Mr Owens was not removed within the 10-day period. He applied for his discharge under section 36(8) of the 2003 Act. The District Judge refused to order discharge (she having been given an inaccurate account for the failure by SOCA).

On an application for habeas corpus in respect of that refusal, it emerged that the true reason for the failure was because SOCA had believed that (notwithstanding that no application for leave to appeal may be made or entertained where the High Court has refused to certify a point of law of general public importance) the decision of the High Court did not become ‘final’ until the 14-day period for applying for leave had run its (academic) course. 

The High Court refused the application for habeas; ruling that SOCA’s interpretation of the law was correct and that, in any event, even if the removal period had expired, a mistake of law by a state authority was capable of constituting a ‘reasonable cause’ for not surrendering within the time limits.
Mr Owens’ Application to the Supreme Court for permission to appeal against that decision raised the following issues;
i. When does the decision of the High Court become ‘final’
ii. Whether a mistake or misinterpretation of law by the state may constitute a ‘reasonable cause’ as a matter of law?
 On 5 November 2009, the Appellate Committee (Lords Rodger, Kerr and Clarke) refused permission to appeal, giving the standard ‘reasons’, namely “…the application did not raise an arguable point of law of general public importance whicought to be considered by the Supreme Court at this time…” .  A copy of the order refusing permission can be found here.