By Nabila Mallick

Injunctive Relief against revocation of Tier 4

Overseas Students of the London Metropolitan University Students will have their Student ‘leave’ reduced to 60 days from the 1st October 2012, as a result of the SSHD’s revoking and cancelling the University’s Tier 4 Sponsorship Licence. However on the 21st September 2012, the London Metropolitan was given an injunction and permission for Judicial Review of the SSHD decision. This was in line with an earlier decision made on the 24th July 2012 in the above named case. Consequently, the students of the City Banking College were given the opportunity to complete their course on an application for Injunctive relief, interim to Judicial Review proceedings.

City Banking College limited provide degree courses in Banking, law and Economics. The College has been an education provider for 30 years and was incorporated in 1992. In 2002, the Claimant obtained its Tier 4 Sponsorship licence, as Highly Trusted, A rated, after a audit of all the student record. The Claimant had always had a history of reporting those students who did not attend, having applied on the basis of admission to the Claimant. On the 6th September 2011, the Claimant made an application to renew its licence.

The SSHD decided not to renew the Claimant’s Tier 4Licence , on the basis that a entry clearance refusal rating for students with a Claimant ‘s CAS number (confirmation of acceptance of sponsorship ) was over 20% (see Tier 4 Guidance note for Sponsors).

Pennington Solicitors the Claimants then representative, sought reconsideration of the decision on the grounds that the wrong period of time had been used , and that some of those students included had in fact obtained entry clearance on appeal. Pennington Solicitors also argued that the SSHD’s decision was unfair because the applicable terms in the Sponsor’s Guidance was unclear and confusing. In a decision dated the 24th May 2012, the SSHD upheld its decision. The Claimant changed his legal representative to Cleaveland Solicitors, who advised that the Claimant institute Judicial Review proceedings.

The Claimant challenged by Judicial Review proceedings commenced on the 1st June 2012 the SSHD’s decision not to renew the Claimant’s Tier 4 Sponsorship Licence. The SSHD provided a defence on the 2nd July 2012. The SSHD had not then revoked the Claimant’s current licence but did repeat by a letter dated the 3rd July 2012, her intention to revoke the Licence. The Claimant has some 220 students enrolled on their final year Banking, Economics and Law course. The course is unique to this college and so the Students could not transfer their course to another college. The revocation of the Licence would mean that the students would have wasted time and money. The Claimant was concerned that the students would not be able to finish their course with the College if the Licence was Tier 4 Licence was revoked and cancelled.

On the 24th July 2012 an application was made for an Injunction against the SSHD. The application was heard by Deputy High Court Judge Charles George QC. The SSHD was represented by Richard O’Brien of 4 New Square Chambers. The Judge granted interim relief , prohibiting the SSHD from taking any steps against the college that would mean that they could not continue to teach the 200 or so students from being taught to enable them to complete their course. The order has meant unlike the students of the London Metropolitan University they will not have to look for another college or leave the UK within a 60 day time frame. Further although the college can not recruit other overseas students it retains its Tier 4 status on the register, which allows it to make a new Tier 4 application and recruit further overseas students in the future with minimal damage to its reputation.

On application of Claimant’s Counsel the Court Order also allowed the Claimant to amend the Judicial Review grounds to include a challenge on the basis of R (on the application of Alvi) v SSHD [2012] UKSC 33. The further ground argues that the SSHD’s reliance on a criteria set out in the Respondent’s guidance is unlawful. The challenge reflects the argument put forward by Manjit Gill QC and Ed Nichols in R (on the application of New London College) v SSHD [ 2012] EWCA 51 ( this case is on appeal to the Supreme Court in that case, permission was granted to amend grounds of appeal in light of the decision in ‘Alvi’.

Nabila Mallick of Counsel

Instructed by Cleaveland and Co Solicitors