On appeal from: [2012] EWCA Civ 51; [2013] EWHC Civ 31.

These appeals concerned the system for licensing educational institutions to sponsor students from outside the European Economic Area under Tier 4 of the points-based system of immigration control. New College London was a licensed Tier 4 sponsor until Dec 2009 when its licence was suspended by the Secretary of State on the ground it had breached its duties as set out in the Sponsor Guidance. West London Vocational Training College’s application for Highly Trusted Sponsor status was refused in Aug 2012, the effect of that refusal being that it could not be a licensed Tier 4 sponsor. Both institutions attempted to judicially review the decisions, arguing that the Sponsor Guidance needed to be laid before Parliament, and that by making decisions in reference to it without having done this, the Secretary of State acted unlawfully.

The Supreme Court unanimously dismissed the appeals. The criteria for sponsor licensing contained in the Sponsor Guidance were not required to be laid before Parliament under the Immigration Act 1971 s 3(2) because that requirement only related to rules regulating the grant of leave to enter or remain in the UK, not the licensing of sponsoring institutions.

If the provisions of the Act do not apply, it does not follow that there is no power to have such a system at all. The statutory power of the Secretary of State to administer the system of immigration control must necessarily extend to a range of ancillary and incidental administrative powers not expressly spelt out in the Act, including the vetting of sponsors.

For judgment, please download: [2013] UKSC 51
For Court’s press summary, please download: Court’s Press Summary
For a non-PDF version of the judgment, please visit: BAILII