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UK Border Agency ‘unlawful’ in revoking College Tier 4 Sponsors Licence High Court rules | Immigration Matters

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On 18 October 2010 the High Court in London ruled that the decision of the UK Border Agency (UKBA) to revoke the tier 4 sponsor licence of London Reading College was ‘unlawful’, leaving open a claim for substantial damages, Penningtons Solicitors reports.

The college had sought an order that the decision, if found to be unlawful, be quashed and it also sought substantial damages under section 8 of the Human Rights Act 1998. As a result of UKBA’s decision to revoke its licence, London Reading College had suffered considerably; being forced to cease teaching, refund its pupils, lay off staff and vacate its premises.

Counsel for the claimant argued successfully that the revocation of the licence breached the requirements of procedural fairness. This was because UKBA had not given the claimant the opportunity to comment on the ultimate reason for revocation (namely that it had not carried out accurate testing of English language skills). That reason was very different to the concerns which UKBA had previously put to the claimant for them to comment on during the course of its investigation (that it did not have compliant records and procedures in place in relation to monitoring and attendance). The claimant’s position was that it did carry out compliant English language testing and would have been able to provide evidence of this had UKBA raised this concern with the claimant before revoking the licence.

Counsel for the claimant also successfully argued that the unlawful revocation of the licence breached Article 1 of the First Protocol ECHR. Specifically the court found that the sponsor licence was a ‘possession’ and that any decision therefore to deprive the claimant of the licence had to be made in accordance with the law and had to be proportionate.

The court quashed the decision to revoke the licence and a further hearing on the assessment of damages under section 8 of the HRA 1998 is pending.

This case provides the first indication from the judiciary that UKBA’s actions in removing sponsor licences unlawfully may result in significant damages claims. In view of the significant financial losses which can occur when a sponsor’s licence is revoked, we expect the Government to strongly resist damages claims and to vigorously defend itself in the further proceedings arising from this case.  

Source: Penningtons Solicitors LLP.

Penningtons say they are ‘currently acting for numerous college sponsors who have suffered substantial financial losses as a result of unlawful action by the UK Border Agency’.

The Judicial Review Hearing Judgment has been published on EIN.

The Judge in final paragraphs of the Judgment states:

“67.     I have found that the withdrawal of the licence was carried out in a manner that was procedurally unlawful. In my judgment it must follow that that revocation was not “subject to the conditions provided for by law” since those conditions include, as a matter of domestic law, procedural fairness.68.     It follows that there has been a breach of A1P1. I will hear argument from counsel as to the appropriate order in respect of the assessment of damages for that breach.”

See also:

Yes, there are many types of student visa so beware when changing college

Changes to sponsor guidance announced by UKBA

UK Immigration Cap could damage higher education 

Students in England face tuition fees rising to £9,000 

If you need any immigration advice or help with Sponsorship or Work Permits, Visa, ILR/Settlement, Citizenship, dependant visa or an appeal against a refusal please email: or visit

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5 Responses to “UK Border Agency ‘unlawful’ in revoking College Tier 4 Sponsors Licence High Court rules”
Read them below or add one

  1. Lolafemi Ojetola says :

    This is good news for some of us whom London Reading College is still owing our refund.We will really appreciate that the college pay refund back to us our money

  2. Liaquat Ali Qureshi says :

    its highly ionformative with refence immigration matters. keep it up.

  3. am student visa .all i need to know is how can i stay here in uk for a long time .am happy to stay a filipina.with 5 children in the visa is nearly to end this march taking up NVQ3 TO 4. MY VISA IS FROM DEC. 2008 TO MARCH 2012.WOULD YOU PLEASE HELP ME WHAT I GONNA DO FOR MY VISA ,THANKS YOU..

  4. Toaha Qureshi says :

    This is a very good news as it is going to support private colleges. This is also a warning for UKBA to use authority with responsibility as there are going to be huge financial implications due to this decision.

  5. […] UK Border Agency ‘unlawful’ in revoking College Tier 4 Sponsors Licence High Court rules […]

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