Area of law: Immigration and asylum
Complaint reason(s): Failure to release files
Remedy: No remedy
Outcome: Ombudsman’s decision rejected by complainant
Mr F went to the firm to help him apply for further leave to remain in the UK. The firm made the application in June, on the basis that his partner was already settled here. To support the application, the firm sent in original documents, including his wife and daughter’s birth certificates and their marriage certificate. Unfortunately, Mr F’s application was refused, and he was given no grounds to appeal. The firm suggested he challenge the decision through judicial review. Mr F agreed, and the relevant letters were sent to the UK Border Agency.
The UK Border Agency replied, saying their decision was unchanged, but they would allow Mr F to remain for a limited period. Mr F then contacted the firm to ask them to return the birth certificates and documents. The firm wrote to the UK Border Agency, to have the documents returned. When they received no response, they chased this up with them again.
Mr F sent his own letter of complaint to the UK Border Agency, who said that the documents had been returned to the firm with their letter of refusal months ago. Mr F, feeling like he was being given the run around, then sent a letter of complaint to the firm. With the issues remaining unresolved, and the documents still not found, brought his complaint to the Legal Ombudsman.
Upon investigation, we felt that whilst the UK Border Agency usually returned the documents with their letter of refusal, in this instance, they make no mention of them being enclosed. We were therefore satisfied that the firm had never received the documents from the UK Border Agency. As such, we did not feel that they had provided a poor service to Mr F, and therefore did not suggest any remedy. The firm have, however, offered to chase the UK Border Agency again, to try to locate the documents.