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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.
"Public law is not at base about rights, even though abuses of power may and often do invade private rights; it is about wrongs - that is to say, misuses of public power."
Sedley J in R v Somerset CC ex parte Dixon