Research

For over 30 years, PLP has produced independent, rigorous and impactful research on the public law system.

Our dedicated team of researchers, mostly at the post-doctoral or Ph.D. level, works on a broad range of doctrinal, empirical and ethnographic projects. The team is led by Research Director Dr Joe Tomlinson and works closely with our casework and wider staff team.

You can find our research outputs here.

Why we research

PLP research aims to:

  • Improve understanding and analysis of the public law system
  • Impact and inform decision-makers who shape the public law system
  • Support public law casework

PLP is committed to transparent, objective, and rigorous research methodologies. Our research team has a strong mix of doctrinal, quantitative and qualitative skills, allowing us to use the best combination of research methods to answer a particular question.

All of PLP’s research is freely available online. We aim to publish our research in peer-reviewed academic journals to assure its quality and to influence discussion about public law in the UK. We also disseminate our research through events and training, both at PLP and with partner organisations such as universities and think tanks.

What we are researching

You can read about some of our key research themes below.

Our research on access to judicial review focuses on how the system works and the barriers people face in accessing public law remedies.

Recent examples of our work include:

You can find out more about PLP’s work on access to judicial review here.

The UK’s decision to leave the EU has led to a significant increase in Executive power and jeopardised Parliamentary sovereignty, responsible government, and the Rule of Law.

  • Established in January 2019, PLP’s SIFT Project scrutinises the statutory instruments created to facilitate Brexit, to check they conform to public law standards and do not undermine fundamental rights. SIFT stands for Statutory Instruments: Filtering and Tracking.
  • This research enabled PLP to intervene before the Supreme Court in Miller (No 2), the successful challenge to the Government’s attempt to prorogue Parliament in summer 2019.
  • In October 2020, PLP published a report on this work, Plus ça change? Brexit and the flaws of the delegated legislation system, written by Alexandra Sinclair and Dr Joe Tomlinson.

You can find out more about PLP’s work on Brexit here.

Millions of people have applied to the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) to secure their right to continue to live in the UK after Brexit.

PLP’s research looks at the operation of the EUSS and the challenges it presents for fair decision-making and the rule of law.

Recent examples of our work include:

You can find out more about PLP’s work on Brexit here.

PLP’s research addresses gaps in current knowledge about the accessibility of Exceptional Case Funding (ECF), a scheme for legal aid where an individual’s human rights would be breached if funding was not available.

Recent examples of our work include:

You can find out more about PLP’s work on ECF and legal aid here.

HM Courts and Tribunals Service are carrying out reforms to move court and tribunal procedures online. These reforms accelerated with the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK.

PLP conducts rigorous, empirical research into how online courts and tribunals are working in practice, particularly for disadvantaged and marginalised groups.

Recent examples of our work include:

You can find out more about PLP’s work on online courts and tribunals here.

The UK Government uses algorithms and big data to make decisions across a range of areas, including tax, welfare, criminal justice, immigration and social care.

PLP’s research considers the challenges and opportunities which automated decision-making presents for administrative justice in the UK.

Recent examples of our work include:

  • In June 2020, Dr Joe Tomlinson edited a special issue of the journal, Judicial Review, containing a range of papers from PLP’s 2019 annual conference on public law and technology.
  • In August 2020, Dr Joe Tomlinson and Jack Maxwell published a working paper on the emerging common law presumption in favour of disclosure of government decision-making models, Government Models and the Presumption of Disclosure.
  • In October 2020, Jack Maxwell and Dr Joe Tomlinson published an article, Proving algorithmic discrimination in government decision-making, arguing that the courts increasingly expect governments to take responsibility for identifying algorithmic discrimination, not the general public.

You can find out more about PLP’s work on automated decision-making here.