In Muhammed Hafeez Katib v HMRC [2017] TC06149 the First Tier Tribunal (FTT) permitted an out of time appeal due to the taxpayer’s reliance on an incompetent adviser. The case was overturned by the Upper Tribunal in July 2019.

Under normal circumstances, a taxpayer has 30 days to raise an appeal against a VAT assessment or penalty notice. However, the tribunal may give permission for an appeal to be made outside the statutory time limit where it would serve the interests of justice.

Katib was director of a company (MDM), which commenced business and registered for VAT in early 2013 and made its first trade in February 2014. VAT returns were filed.

HMRC disallowed input tax and raised assessments based on gross turnover. These were not paid as MDM had become insolvent, so HMRC issued personal penalty notices to Katib.

The first of these (for both MDM and Katib) were received on 5 December 2014, on which day they appointed new advisers ("Master" Bridger of Sovereign Associates). Katib again appointed new advisers (Bond Adams) to deal with the liquidation of MDM and deal with his own affairs in July 2016.

Katib did not recall receiving the penalty notices, but sent all documents received (as he did not understand them) to Bridger.

Bridger assured Katib that everything was in hand on a number of occasions, but declined to provide copies of correspondence on grounds of “confidentiality”. However, Bridger failed to appeal any of the assessments served on MDM or personal penalties served on Katib. The appellant became aware of the situation when he received a letter from the official receiver threatening to send bailiffs.

Bridger advised Katib to “cease to be a man” by making a declaration to that effect, with the intention of Bridger telling HMRC that he was dead, among other unorthodox legal advice.

Bond Adams appealed the various notices on 15 September 2016, though technical errors meant these needed to be refiled on 10 March 2017.

The FTT held that

  • Katib had no competence to deal with his affairs and was totally reliant on his advisers.
  • Bridger misled Katib as to both what was needed and what was done to resolve his affairs
  • The long delay between the notices and the appeal was caused by Bridger
  • Bond Adams acted as quickly as was reasonable to make the appeal.
  • Hence, Katib could make an appeal despite being out of time.


It is clear that Sovereign Associates should not have been advising on these matters as they were not competent in the area; indeed, the FTT described Bridger as a "fabulist". Some elements of their arguments seem to have been in line with those presented by the “freemen on the land”, a pseudolegal movement whose “logic” and arguments are thoroughly analysed in the Canadian case Meads v Meads.


Appeal: grounds for appeal

Appeal: mistake by an adviser

Upper Tribunal: Mohammed Hafeez Katib v HMRC [2019] UKUT 189


External links

Muhammed Hafeez Katib v HMRC [2017] TC06149

Meads v Meads, 2012 ABQB 571



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