In the recent case of R (SRI Lalithambika Foods Ltd) v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWHC 761 (Admin), the sitting deputy High Court Judge, Charles Bourne QC. explains that receiving a suspension letter presents a Sponsor Licence holder with an opportunity to respond fully to each ground. It’s vital to do this even if some of the points have previously been challenged in correspondence or during a compliance visit.
Although the case is hardly groundbreaking, the case contains a practical tip to help rescue a sponsor Licence from suspension or revocation.
The above case involved an Indian restaurant holding an A-rated Tier 2 sponsor licence which received an unannounced compliance visit. The Home Office found the sponsor in14 breaches of the Tier 2 and 5 sponsor guidance, triggering a suspension and subsequent revocation of the Licence.
The sponsor then responded to the letter and started proceedings, but submitted the evidence unsystematically over the course of 18 months with some of it arriving late. The sponsor then stated in court that it was deprived of the opportunity to deal with any of the allegations.
Charles Bourne QC dismissed the claim and explained how the sponsor failed on every allegation. Most importantly, he provided a useful steer on how to save your sponsor licence:
- Sponsors must keep records which are comprehensive, accurate and clear. Just as importantly, they must produce those records when asked to do so.
- A response to a suspension letter is likely to be the last effective opportunity to deal with any concerns. In such a response a Claimant must
- prove its case on every point, even where it believes that it has already done so at a compliance visit or in correspondence.
- If it fails to do so, then disputing the facts in judicial review proceedings is inherently unlikely to remedy the omission, because the Court primarily reviews a decision on the basis of the information available to the decision-maker and also because… disputes of fact in judicial review must usually be resolved in the Defendant’s favour.