An immigration judge who tried to change his mind after granting asylum to a 16-year-old Iraqi boy has been overruled by the Upper Tribunal. The case is PAA (FtT: Oral decision – written reasons)  UKUT 13 (IAC).
Notes made by several different people present at a First-Tier Tribunal hearing in May 2018, including the Home Office representative, recorded the judge announcing a decision in the child’s favour. Imagine their horror, then, to receive a written judgment denying him asylum a few weeks later.
To the rescue came the unlikely figure of Mr Ockelton. The Upper Tribunal Vice-President found that the first decision, though oral, was set in stone:
In my judgement it is clear as a matter of law that he gave his decision orally allowing the appeal. He could not subsequently dismiss the appeal.
In this he was fortified by section 29(1) of the First-tier Tribunal procedure rules (SI 2604/2014), which says that “the Tribunal may give a decision orally at a hearing”. The Court of Appeal had decided in Patel v SSHD  EWCA Civ 1175 that “a decision given to the parties in open court under a procedural rule in these terms cannot, after it has been uttered, be revised or reversed”. Mr Ockelton declared that there was “no jurisdiction to give a second decision inconsistent with the first”. The original appeal decision in the child’s favour stands.
Mr Ockelton takes a moment to castigate the legal representatives on both sides for coming to the Upper Tribunal hearing without doing “proper research on what the procedural strictures below actually were… there is no excuse at all for lack of knowledge of the rules”. This spleen does not, however, extend to the First-tier Tribunal judge responsible for the debacle, who is allowed to remain anonymous.