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15 APR 2013

R (on the Application of West London Vocational Training College Ltd) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2013] EWHC 31 (Admin); (2013) PLLR 022

Education - Immigration - Highly Trusted Sponsor

The Defendant had applied the correct policy in refusing the Claimant's application for Highly Trusted Sponsor Status.

16 January 2013

Administrative Court

Toulson LJ and Simon J

(1)        The Claimant challenged the Defendant's decision to refuse its application for Highly Trusted Sponsor (‘HTS') status and to reduce its allocation of Confirmation of Acceptance to Studies to zero. In making its decision, the Defendant considered the Claimant's rate of refusal for Confirmation of Acceptance to Studies.

(2)        In challenging the Defendant's decision the Claimant alleged that the decision was:

(a)        based on invalid policy guidance;

(b)        if the policy guidance was valid, it was misconstrued;

(c)        if neither (a) nor (b), then the guidance leading to the refusal of the Claimant's application was irrational; or

(d)        in applying the guidelines, the Defendant fettered her discretion.

(3)        HELD: The Court did not accept that the Defendant had relied on an invalid policy in determining the Claimant's application for HTS status. The policy applied, ‘Tier 4 of the Points Based System - Policy Guideline' issued in 2009, was held to be the correct and valid policy.

(4)        The Court also rejected the Claimant's second ground, holding that there was no ambiguity in the language of the policy, and it could not be interpreted any other manner suggested by the Claimant.

(5)        The Court did not consider there to be a sustainable objection to the Defendant using a refusal rate to conclude that the Claimant's recruitment procedures were insufficiently robust to merit classification as a highly trusted sponsor. Further, there could be no objection to the rate of refusal being 20%.

(6)        The Defendant was held not to have fettered its discretion in applying the policy, and it was not unreasonable for the Claimant to need to satisfy itself that maintenance criteria would be met before a Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies was issued.

(7)        The Court therefore dismissed each of the grounds of challenge and the application itself.

Application dismissed.

Key Paragraphs

[28] - Policy.

[31] - No ambiguity in language.

[40] - Refusal rate.

[41] - Refusal rate.

[42]-[43] - Fettering discretion.

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