About Public Law

This section provides an overview of public law issues. The Public Law project has published a number of short guides to public law - you can find them in our Resource Library here.

What is public law? 

Public law is the set of legal principles which govern the exercise of power by public bodies.

What are public bodies?

There are many public bodies of various kinds who take decisions every day which affect the lives of thousands of individuals. They include government ministers and departments, local authorities, the prison service, NHS Trusts, coroners' courts and many more.

What are public law remedies?

There are many procedures by which individuals can challenge the legality of decisions made by public bodies. They include:

  • Judicial review: court proceedings in which a judge is asked to review the lawfulness of the decision which is being challenged;

  • Complaints procedures such as the social service complaints procedure; and

  • Ombudsman schemes such as the Local Government Ombudsman, and the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration

PLP has been in the vanguard of constructing the system of public law that now exists in Britain and opening the way for citizens and non-governmental organisations to use the administrative courts. Wrongs have been righted decision-making improved. Without PLP, justice in Britain would be much the poorer.

Nick Hildyard, Corner House Research