In Mohammed Hafeez Katib v HMRC [2019] UKUT 189 the Upper tribunal (UT) held that the incompetence of an adviser did not justify a late appeal; they overturned a decision of the First tier tribunal allowing the late appeal.

  • The general requirement is that time limits must be followed, and Late appeals allowed exceptionally.
  • The tribunal may give permission for an appeal to be made outside the statutory time limit where it would serve the interests of justice.

The taxpayer had been a director of a company that became insolvent.

  • HMRC imposed penalties on the company for inaccurate input VAT claims. These were not paid.
  • HMRC served personal liability notices (PLNs) on the taxpayer.
  • An appeal against a PLN should be made within 30 days. The taxpayer’s appeal was between 13.5 and 24 months late.
  • The taxpayer engaged an adviser whose advice was considered “extraordinary”.
    • It included allowing the adviser to say that the taxpayer was dead.
    • The adviser failed to deal with notices and falsely told the taxpayer that matters were in hand and there was no need for him to be concerned.

The first tier tribunal (FTT) allowed a late appeal, largely on the extraordinary behaviour of the adviser, said to be on a “frolic” of his own.

HMRC advanced three arguments why the late appeal should not be granted. Only the first was accepted by the UT. This was that the FTT gave “insufficient consideration to the stricter approach to compliance with time limits” following a Supreme Court decision.


The Supreme Court decision referred to was BPP Holdings Ltd v HMRC [2017] UKSC 55, following which there has been a clampdown on allowing late appeals. The statutory time limit is only 30 days, however late appeals may be permitted when certain criteria are met.

Links to our guides:

Late Appeals

Appeals: grounds for appeal toolkit

Appeal: mistake by an adviser

Penalties (VAT)

External links:

 HMRC v Mohammed Hafeez Katib [2019] UKUT 189