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Public law and Regulation

Case reports and guidance on public law and professional regulation issues

15 APR 2013

R (on the application of Manchester College of Accountancy & Management) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2013] EWHC 409 (Admin); (2013) PLLR 036

Immigration - Education - Sponsor licence

The Defendant had lawfully and rationally revoked the Claimant's Tier 4 General (Student) Sponsor Licence and the decision had been based on evidence that the Claimant had failed to comply with its duties.

1 March 2013

Administrative Court

Supperstone HJ

(1)        The Claimant, Manchester College of Accountancy & Management, brought this claim for judicial review against the Defendant's decisions to suspend and revoke its Tier 4 General (Student) Sponsor Licence. Without this licence, the Claimant was unable to issue confirmation for acceptance for studies for students wishing to study in the UK.

(2)        The Claimant brought the challenge on three grounds:

a.         The Defendant's reliance upon the Tier 4 Points Based System Sponsor Guidance to sponsor and/or revoke the Claimant's licence was unlawful.

b.         The decision-making procedure applied in suspending and revoking the licence was unlawful, unreasonable and unfair and the decisions were Wednesbury unreasonable.

c.          The Claimant was entitled to damages for economic loss suffered as a result of the suspension and revocation of the licence.

(3)        Since becoming a licensed sponsor, various deficiencies were identified as to the Claimant's record keeping, reporting and practices. The revocation letter identified five areas of complaint (i) attendance records; (ii) students who failed to enrol; (iii) non-compliance with action plans implemented; (iv) student assessment; and (v) reporting duties.

(4)        The Claimant accepted that due to the Court of Appeal's decision in R (on the application of New London College Ltd) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2012] EWCA Civ 51 grounds (a) and (c) failed. As an appeal was pending in that case, the Claimant's position was reserved so as to allow for these grounds to be argued if the Supreme Court decision allowed for that.

(5)        HELD: The Court was satisfied that there were no procedural irregularities in the Defendant using information disclosed by a member of the Claimant's staff to identify irregularities in the Claimant's compliance with its duties. Furthermore, the independent evidence available inevitably led to the same conclusion.

(6)        The Court held that on the available evidence, the Defendant had been entitled to conclude that the Claimant had not been properly monitoring its student's attendance. There was also held to be no procedural unfairness in the decision-making procedure adopted by the Claimant. The reasons for revocation had previously been raised with the Claimant. As such, the decision to suspend the Claimant's licence had been made in accordance with the relevant policy and guidance, as had the decision to revoke the licence.

(7)        It was therefore held that there was no unlawful, unreasonable or unfair suspension or revocation of the Claimant's licence, and the Wednesbury challenge was without merit.

Claim dismissed

Key Paragraphs

[8] - Grounds (a) & (c) failed.

[21] - Revocation letter.

[52] - No procedural irregularity.

[54] - Not monitoring attendance.

[55] - Previously informed of complaints.

[56] - Accordance guidance.

[57]-[58] - Conclusion.

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