The Supreme Court, in a 3 day hearing (22-24 Feb 2016), has considered the appeal in MM (Lebanon) and others v Secretary of State for the Home Department. The case deals with immigration rules, as of July 2012, which require that, before British nationals or other persons lawfully settled in the UK can sponsor a foreign spouse (or partner, including a same-sex partner) from outside of the European Economic Area, they must show that the sponsoring spouse in the UK has an income of at least £18,600 p.a. rising to £22,400 with the first child and £2400 per child thereafter. This is beyond the reach of large sections of the working population and in particular impacts negatively and disproportionately on women, certain ethnic groups and persons located in low wage areas or in low wage professions. 

It is argued that the rule does not appear to take proper account of the statutory duty to have regard to the best interests of the children affected and is incompatible with Article 8 of the European Convention on Human rights, and as such has led to a wide scale breach of the right to family life under the convention.  

In July 2013 Blake J, sitting in the Administrative Court, substantially accepted the claimants’ arguments that in various respects the rules went too far and violated the right to family life. See judgment at [2013] EWHC 1900 Admin and a note on the case by clicking here.

A year later in July 2014, the Court of Appeal allowed the Secretary of State’s appeal: see judgment at [2014] EWCA Civ 985

The Children’s Commissioner and the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) as intervenors are supporting the Appellants cases noting in particular that the minimum income requirement has unlawfully and negatively affected children who as a consequence are living separately from a parent with reported stress, anxiety and various difficulties for them and their families.

Manjit S. Gill QC, Ramby de Mello and Danny Bazini of No5 Chambers appeared for the Appellants.

Click here to view articles related to this story written by No5 Chambers, the Guardian, the Electronic Immigration Network and the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants.