“Be careful what you wish for!”, could be the headline for the case of Ahmed (rule 18; PTA; Family Court materials) Pakistan  UKUT 357 (IAC).
Haseeb Ahmed, a Pakistani citizen, was initially refused an application for leave to remain by the Secretary of State. He won his appeal at the First-tier Tribunal, but the Secretary of State was granted permission to appeal to the Upper Tribunal. Shortly before the date of the appeal hearing, Mr Ahmed’s solicitors wrote to the tribunal asking to withdraw the appeal, so that they could submit a new application for leave to remain for their client.
I do not blame the solicitors for the mistake, which I am sure many would make, but they simply had no appeal to withdraw, as the Secretary of State was the party who appealed.
Instead, the Upper Tribunal treated the request as meaning that Mr Ahmed was no longer going to defend his case and the Secretary of State’s case was unopposed. It then proceeded to rule in the Secretary of State’s favour, finding that the initial refusal of Mr Ahmed’s application for leave to remain was correct. Mr Ahmed was back to square one, but now with two negative decisions against him!
Thankfully in this case, Mr Ahmed went on to apply for permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal, which sent the decision back to the Upper Tribunal. This time, the Upper Tribunal ruled in Mr Ahmed’s favour, finding that the First-tier Tribunal’s decision had been correct. So things could have gone even worse for poor Mr Ahmed…
A second procedural issue which arose in this case was about appeal deadlines. The Secretary of State applied for permission to appeal well out of time. This didn’t seem to have been picked up by anyone until the second Upper Tribunal hearing, when Mr Ahmed’s legal representatives tried to argue that the Secretary of State’s application could not be admitted on that basis.
The Upper Tribunal found, rather ironically, that it was too late to raise this issue. When a party wants to raise the issue of lateness, they should do it before the Upper Tribunal makes a substantive decision on whether or not the First-tier Tribunal erred in law.
Last but not least, the tribunal reminds us again of the danger of submitting family court documents without permission, as Rachel explained in detail in her recent post on the issue. In this case, the Upper Tribunal picked up that Mr Ahmed’s legal representatives did not have permission to disclose the documents and wrote to the Designated Family Judge to bring the matter to their attention. Mr Ahmed’s lawyers just need to hope they won’t be found in contempt of the Family Court.