The Supreme Court, as the highest appellate court in the UK, has handed down this morning its decision in the appeals of New London College and West London Vocational Training College. 

The appeals related to (separate) decisions of the UK Border Agency ("UKBA") to revoke and reject respectively the colleges’ Tier 4 status. 

The appeals to the Supreme Court were permitted on one ground only, which the Court recognised this morning as being an important issue of principle; namely whether section 3(2) of the Immigration Act 1971 requires Tier 4 sponsor guidance to be laid before Parliament in order to be effective. The colleges argued that the sponsor guidance did need to be laid before Parliament under the Act – and therefore the decisions of the UKBA to remove or withhold their Tier 4 status had been unlawful.

By a majority decision, the Court has confirmed that whereas section 3(2) of the Act does require rules relating to the ability of migrants to enter or remain in the UK to be placed before Parliament, the sponsor guidance (which sets out criteria for sponsorship, sponsor duties and the circumstances in which Tier 4 licences will be suspended or revoked) did not need to be laid before Parliament.  The Court confirmed in that respect that the Home Secretary is entitled to undertake appropriate administrative measures to identify who should be licensed under the points based system as a sponsor. 

On a wider note, the Court also observed in the decision this morning that the Immigration Act 1971, which is currently the central legislation governing the right to enter or remain in the UK, is ill adapted to dealing with the complexities of immigration in today’s global society.  As we reported previously, an immigration bill is expected to make its way through Parliament shortly following the announcement of reform in the Queen’s Speech earlier this year.