R (on the application of Alvi) (Respondent) v Secretary of State for the Home Department (Appellant)

Observers are describing the case as one of the most important immigration judgments in decades.

Not only a significant development for the future implementation of immigration law, the judgment also calls into question the fitness for purpose of our existing immigration system.

The main impact of the judgment is to expose underlying flaws particularly in the Points Based System – the very system that was intended to make the application system clearer and more definitive. It now seems like the Points Based System was destined to be unsuccessful, because the structure was implemented like a superficial skin over the skeleton of a 40 year old immigration system that no longer fits the purpose of modern immigration.

It is under law that dates back to 1971, that ministers must place all new immigration rules before Parliament for proper scrutiny before implementing the changes. Points based system applications in particular have undergone constant changes over the past years, many of which, as highlighted in this case, were not implemented having undergone Parliamentary scrutiny.

Thousands of decisions over the past years (since 2008) may have been fundamentally flawed and many applications may have been decided contrary to interests of justice because they were refused, possibility arbitrarily, and certainly on the grounds of rules that had not undergone parliamentary scrutiny. At the moment it is unclear how this development will be handled by the UKBA and we will publish more information on the implications of the decision as we receive it.

Undoubtedly, the impact will be great as parliamentarians now must scrutinise every change to the rules. The UKBA must work harder to make their policy clear and decisive and parliament must ensure that every piece of legislation is fit to be implemented.