An immigration solicitor who brought meritless judicial reviews (JRs) has been fined £60,000 and banned for an indefinite period from making further applications. Syed Wasif Ali was referred by Mr Justice Lane, president of the Upper Tribunal, to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) following a Hamid hearing, used when courts suspect abusive behaviour by immigration practitioners, in 2018. The SRA launched an investigation which revealed that between January 2017 and March 2018, Mr Ali’s North-West London firm, Harrow Solicitors, brought 36 JRs, of which nine were out of time, and 11 certified as being totally without merit. Permission to was refused in every case. The Upper Tribunal found that the cases displayed “a number of disturbing features”. In almost of all of them, the decision said to be challenged was the Home Office response to Mr Ali’s pre-action protocol letter regarding a JR.
But the Upper Tribunal said that a response to a letter of that kind did not amount to a “discrete decision, which can be separately challenged by judicial review”. Any solicitor specialising in immigration law “would be expected to know this”.
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