Gomulka v Poland: Extradition, Article 8 Rights, and Brexit Implications

Citation: [2024] EWHC 460 (Admin)
Judgment on


The case of Leszek Robert Gomulka v Poland before the Administrative Court in the High Court of Justice grapples with concepts primarily surrounding extradition and the European Arrest Warrant (EAW), considering the passage of time, the conventionality of delay, the accused’s right to private life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), and the practical impacts of Brexit on such cases. This analysis dissects the judgment and the legal principles applied, offering insights that are pertinent to practitioners of extradition law in the UK.

Key Facts

Leszek Robert Gomulka, aged 46, faced extradition to Poland in relation to four convictions for fraud dating back to 2002 and 2003. Gomulka had been sentenced, and upon reoffending, had the suspended sentence activated but left for the UK where he remained for over 15 years without serving his prison term in Poland. The extradition was ordered, but Gomulka appealed, raising arguments under Section 14 of the Extradition Act 2003, and Article 8 of the ECHR, focusing on the delay in pursuing his extradition and his established private life in the UK.

The case elucidates several key legal principles:

1. Fugitivity and the Passage of Time: Gomulka’s fugitivity played a central role in the case. The principle from Kakis v Cyprus [1978], which states that delay caused by the accused’s actions, like fleeing, cannot be relied upon to argue injustice or oppression as grounds for prohibiting extradition, is reaffirmed.

2. Article 8 ECHR - Private vs. Family Life: The case differentiates between interferences with private life and family life under Article 8. Gomulka had established private life ties in the UK, but there were no familial ties affected by his extradition, influencing the proportionality assessment thereof.

3. The Concept of ‘Culpable Delay’: Drawing from Oreszczynsi v Poland [2014] and related cases, the judgment considers the concept of “culpable delay” by authorities and how it might impact the extradition process. Ultimately, it was decided, within the limitations of pertinent inquiry, that ‘culpable delay’ did not sufficiently apply to diminish the public interest in Gomulka’s extradition.

4. Brexit’s Impact on Returnability: The court evaluated the post-Brexit circumstances on Gomulka’s return abilities to the UK and the fact-specific counterfactual required: that had there been no extradition, what effect would the conviction abroad have on the requested person’s immigration status?

5. Proportionality Assessment: The court reiterates an appeals court’s latitude in assessing proportionality under Article 8 and discusses situations where extradition would be disproportionate to the interference it causes to private life.


The court upheld the original decision for extradition with FORDHAM J finding no basis to disturb the factual findings of the trial judge. Gomulka’s history as a fugitive and movements within the UK without notifying Polish authorities were pivotal. The passage of time and Gomulka’s established private life were considered but were not enough to outweigh the public interest in honoring the extradition request.

Furthermore, the uncertainty around Gomulka’s return to the UK post-extradition was deemed primarily a consequence of his own criminal convictions, rather than an effect of the extradition process itself, reflecting the understanding in Pink v Poland [2021] and Gurskis v Latvia [2022].


The Gomulka case illustrates the delicate judicial balancing required when considering extradition cases against the backdrop of human rights under the ECHR. The decision emphasizes the limited influence fugitivity and lapse of time have on obstructing extradition, and clarifies that the establishment of private life in the UK may not significantly impact the proportionality assessment in extradition cases where family life is unaffected. Additionally, it highlights the nuanced changes that Brexit has introduced to such proceedings, particularly in regards to readmission to the UK post-extradition. Legal professionals in the UK should derive from this case a comprehensive view of how these principles interact and influence the outcome of extradition appeals.