Two teenage brothers whose family has lived in Hong Kong for more than 100 years finally won permanent residency yesterday. Judges on the Court of Appeal overturned a decision denying the boys, of Pakistani origin, the right of abode. The victory for the brothers, aged 15 and 16, could affect almost 100 other people in a similar situation. The boys lost a lawsuit lodged on their behalf in the Court of First Instance earlier this year. Mr Justice Andrew Chung On-tak ruled in January that the boys' father, who was not born in the territory, was subject to immigration controls at the time of their births. As a result of their successful appeal, the two boys have become permanent Hong Kong residents. The Registrar of Births and Deaths has been ordered to change the status on their birth certificates free of charge. A spokesman for the family said they welcomed the appeal court judgment. It is understood that apart from Pakistanis, the ruling could affect people including Canadians, New Zealanders and Singaporeans. The birth certificates for Syed Asim Hussain, 15, and his brother, Haider, 16, did not give them right of abode when they were born. They stated their abode status was 'not established'. They were denied the right to apply for British passports because of this. The Government said the boys' father, Syed Pervez Hussain, a 52-year-old businessman, was not settled in Hong Kong at the time of their birth, having lost his 'belonger' status under immigration laws introduced in 1971. The father, who was born in Pakistan, came to Hong Kong in 1951 at the age of three. He was the third generation of his family to live here. After staying continuously for more than seven years, he travelled in and out of Hong Kong between 1959 and 1971 for study and other purposes. On his return to Hong Kong in June 1971, a condition of stay was imposed on his passport for the first time. He was eventually issued with a Hong Kong permanent identity card in February last year. Mr Justice Anthony Rogers disagreed with the Government's position, saying one should not lose the right of abode merely due to a change in government policy. 'After the father had been in Hong Kong for seven years, he acquired rights and could not be deported. Any subsequent limitation of stay imposed for no apparent reason other than change of government policy was in my view little short of arbitrary,' the judge said. 'If a man had a right to stay in Hong Kong and make Hong Kong his home it would be most alarming that he should not also have had the right to return to Hong Kong if he left Hong Kong only for an insignificant period.' Mr Justice Arthur Leong Shiu-chung agreed, but Mr Justice Brian Keith said such expatriates did not automatically enjoy the right of abode once they left. He said he reached his conclusion 'with no great enthusiasm'. 'The idea that the applicants' father had not become 'settled' in Hong Kong by the time that his sons were born more than 30 years after he had first come to live in Hong Kong offends both elementary concepts of justice and common sense. Mr Justice Keith added: 'The father has had the misfortune to fall foul of an unusually restrictive definition of the word 'settled'.'