Latest round in Turkish Businesspeople litigation: change to immigration policy did not breach substantive legitimate expectation

Yesterday, Dingemans J handed down judgment in R (Alliance of Turkish Businesspeople) v Secretary of State for Home Department [2019] EWHC 603 (Admin) dismissing the claim for judicial review. This was the latest challenge arising from last year’s changes to the immigration rules affecting Turkish Businesspersons.

Prior to last year, the route to settlement for Turkish Businesspersons had remained unchanged since 1973 when the UK joined the EEC and became a signatory to the Ankara Agreement. Following R (Aydogdu) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2017] UKUT 167 (IAC) and BA (Turkey) v Advocate General for Scotland [2017] CSOH 27 the immigration rules were revised, increasing by a year the qualifying period of limited leave and requiring applicants to complete an English language test and pay an application fee.

The Claimant claimed that the introduction of these more onerous conditions breached its substantive legitimate expectation that applications would continue to be assessed against the 1973 rules (as they had for some 45 years).

Dingemans J reviewed the applicable case law (Coughlan, Begbie, Nadarajah, Bhatt Murphy and UK Association of Fish Producer Organisations), concluding that whereas the Home Office guidance amounted to a clear and unambiguous representation that applications for ILR would continue to be decided against the immigration rules in 1973, following the clarification of the UK’s Treaty obligations in Aydogdu and BA (Turkey), it was a legitimate aim of the Secretary of State to change his policy in the public interest (aligning the position of Turkish businesspersons with other nationalities), justifiably frustrating the Claimant’s expectation.

David Mitchell, led by Sir James Eadie QC and instructed by the Government Legal Department, acted for the Secretary of State.