UK Immigration Case Analysis: Raj & Knoll Ltd v SSHD [2015]

The case of R (Raj and Knoll Limited) v SSHD [2015] EWHC 1329 (Admin) is quite rare as it is one of the first cases to come before the courts in respect of the ‘Tier 2’ Points-Based System operated by UK Visas & Immigration on behalf of the Home Department.

In these Judicial Review proceedings, Raj & Knoll Ltd (“the Claimant”) challenged the Secretary of State’s (“Defendant”) decision to revoke its Tier 2 Sponsor Licence and to maintain that revocation. By revoking the sponsor licence, it meant that the Claimant was no longer able to employ non-EEA migrants.

Facts of the Case

In this case, the Claimant is a private company which runs 3 nursing homes in Kent and employs 65 people of whom 11 are ‘sponsored’ workers. The Claimant obtained a sponsor licence in 2009 which permitted it to issue Certificates of Sponsorship (“CoS”) to non-EEA migrants so they could work at the nursing homes.

However, in September 2013, UK Border Agency (as it was known at the time) carried out a Licence Renewal Visit at the Claimant’s registered address. They discovered that the premises were no longer owned by the Claimant (and the Claimant had not informed the Home Office of this). This led to the unit recommending the suspension/revocation of the Claimant’s sponsor licence.

Following a further inspection in March 2014, the Defendant issued the Claimant with a suspension letter citing numerous reasons such as the lack of right to work checks, discovery of an employee who did not have the right to work in the UK and the fact that all the issued CoS contained an address which the Claimant no longer owned.

The Defendant gave the Claimant the opportunity to make submissions but in June 2014 revoked the Claimant’s licence altogether.

The Decision

Justice Haddon-Cave considered submissions from both sides and after analysing the Home Office’s Tier 2 scheme and guidance for sponsors, reflected that the principle applicable to Tier 2 and Tier 4 were similar, with the watchword being “trust”.

In applying principles derived from case law, Justice Haddon-Cave stated that the essence of the sponsor licence system was that the Respondent imposes “a high degree of trust” in sponsors and that the authority to grant a CoS is “a privilege which carries great responsibility.”

After considering both sides of the argument, Justice Haddon-Cave was not satisfied with the Claimant’s arguments and it’s Judicial Review was dismissed. It was concluded that the Claimant had neglected to comply with its record-keeping duties and with the Resident Labour Market Test and had failed to correct these problems and respond to the Home Office within the timeframe given to them.

Warning to Tier 2 Sponsors

The case of Raj & Knoll Ltd v SSHD, tells us that the courts will not tolerate non-compliance with the Home Office’s rules and guidance on Sponsorship.

Justice Haddon-Cave went on to warn sponsors that:

“It must be understood that the grant of [sponsor] status is a fragile gift, constant vigilance about compliance is a minimum standard required for such sponsors. The burden of playing an active role in the support of immigration control is a heavy one. The SSHD is entitled to review purported compliance with a cynical level of supervision.”

It is therefore imperative for sponsors to ensure that they know what their duties are and that they comply with the Home Office’s guidance at all times. Our expert team of immigration lawyers are regularly instructed by clients wishing to obtain sponsor licences and are on hand to advise you of the process of obtaining the same and complying with sponsors duties.

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