PLP has a strong record of independent, rigorous, and impactful research. Recent years have also provided a number of opportunities to evidence the continued value and relevance of PLP’s research functions.

How we do research at PLP

PLP seeks to produce research that has three functions:

  • Creation of knowledge: the general production of knowledge that contributes to the understanding and analysis of the public law system
  • Decision maker impact: research that can influence the approaches of relevant decision-makers within the public law system
  • Casework and strategic use of law: research that can feed into and assist with public law casework.

PLP is committed to transparent, objective, and rigorous social science research methodologies. Research undertaken at the PLP need not, however, adhere to any particular method. It can therefore be empirical research, doctrinal research etc. Considerations of method are assessed in light of what is the best course in furtherance of high quality research. As part of this, PLP has a proactive approach to interdisciplinary engagement.

What we are researching at PLP

There are many pressing issues facing the public law system at present. For the period through to 2020, we have identified five priority themes where research is being undertaken. These are outlined below or you can read more in our Research Strategy 2020 document.

HM Courts and Tribunals Service are carrying out reforms to put tribunal appeal procedures online. These reforms are novel globally and PLP is directly engaged with these developments. For instance, PLP has produced a report with the UK Administrative Justice Institute, the University of Sheffield, and the University of Manchester on What we know and what we need to know about online tribunals. PLP is developing further work in this area.

Brexit requires a fundamental reordering of the administrative state and has multifaceted Rule of Law implications. PLP is committed to providing useful, independent, and distinctive research on how Brexit can be managed both lawfully and fairly. For example, we are conducting research—funded by the Legal Education Foundation—on how Brexit will affect current decision-making and redress processes in the immigration context.

Research produced by the PLP on access to justice, and specifically on access to justice in judicial review, has been vital in responding to previous reform proposals. We will continue with and are expanding this important stream of research. For instance, we are engaged in a collaborative project with academics at University College London on financial barriers to accessing judicial review.

There are various new and pressing challenges facing public law, especially in the post-Brexit landscape. PLP is engaged with expert academics from across disciplines to consider how civil society organisations can position themselves in this environment. At present, we are developing a collaborative project with Liberty and the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights at the University of Oxford to develop work in this area.

PLP, with its experienced casework team and long record in public interest litigation, is in a great positon to develop existing understandings or the relationship between casework and broader research on the public law system. PLP is developing a stream of work in this area. For instance, PLP is currently partnering with UCL academics Dr Lisa Vanhala and Jacqueline Kinghan on a project concerning the strategic use of law, funded by Lankelly Chase. We are also establishing mechanisms to ensure our research is informed and directed by our casework experience and, at the same time, we are exploring ways to ensure all aspects of our casework is effectively supported by wider research.