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TLScontact in unsuccessful challenge to new Home Office contract


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It appears that we may start seeing changes in overseas visa processing centres soon, after TLScontact was unsuccessful in an attempt to stop the Home Office from entering into a new contract with VFS Global. The case is Teleperformance Contact Ltd v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2023] EWHC 2481 (TCC). These proceedings are taking place in the Technology and Construction Court, part of the Business and Property Court of the High Court of Justice.


TLScontact and VFS Global are both companies which manage the administrative side of visa applications for the UK and other countries, taking biometrics (photos and fingerprints) and helping with document checking and uploads as well as providing premium services for faster decisions on some applications.

On 12 July 2023 TLScontact’s parent company Teleperformance Contact Limited lodged a claim challenging the Home Secretary’s decision to award the visa processing contracts for Africa and the Middle East, the Americas, Canada, Australasia and Europe, China and Taiwan to VFS Global’s parent company, VF Worldwide Holding Limited. TLScontact was awarded the contract for services in the UK.

The effect of TLScontact lodging that claim was that the Home Secretary was prevented from entering into the contract with VFS Global under regulation 95(1) of the Public Contracts Regulations 2015. That prohibition can be lifted by interim court order. The Home Office applied for such an order and that was the issue to be decided at this hearing.

The hearing and decision

Evidence given on behalf of TLScontact was that the loss of this contract would result in closure of at least 64 of their centres, a 71% reduction in TLScontact revenue, over 750 redundancies and loss of reputation.

The court took issue with some of the evidence provided on behalf of TLScontact, pointing out that no losses could arise from the failure to award them the contract for China and Taiwan as they had no presence in those areas. The evidence also failed to mention the recent awarding to TLScontact of a contract by the Australian government to provide services in Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa, a contract they were taking over from VFS Global. TLScontact accepted that this meant they would maintain business at 10 of the locations.

The court also agreed with VFS Global that winning and losing contracts and opening and closing visa application centres is a route part of business in visa outsourcing, particularly between TLScontact and VFS Global, as the two largest operators.

The Home Office raised concerns that a further delay to their ability to enter into the new contract with VFS Global would result in, or create a very significant risk of a gap in services. TLScontact said that they would agree terms to extend the existing contracts with the Home Office. The court did not accept that this provided enough certainty as the extension would still need to be negotiated.

The court said that another relevant factor was that the new contracts will “include enhanced physical and digital security measures to standards higher than presently required; improved technology, modernisation of delivery of the services improvement to customer experience, and to contract management procedures”. Delays to these improvements would be detrimental to the wider public.

Applying the test from American Cyanamid v Ethicon [1975] AC 396, the court concluded that damages would be an adequate remedy for any loss experienced by TLScontact should it succeed in the substantive claim. It was held that the balance of convenience lay in lifting the stay and allowing the Home Office and VFS Global with the contract.


If the matter now proceeds to a full hearing, the court has indicated that this could take place in February or March 2024. It certainly seems from this decision that TLScontact may run into some evidential issues regarding their losses. Aside from the outcome of this case, hopefully we will see some significant improvements, as referenced above by the court, once the new contracts with VFS Global are underway.

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Sonia Lenegan

Sonia Lenegan is an experienced immigration, asylum and public law solicitor. She has been practising for over ten years and was previously legal director at the Immigration Law Practitioners' Association and legal and policy director at Rainbow Migration. Sonia is the Editor of Free Movement.