Administrative Justice Network

Lead Research Organisation: University of Westminster
Department Name: Westminster Law School


The proposed events aim to reenergise the debate about the administrative justice system looking forward and targeting pressing issues. The Administrative Justice System is about how government treats people - ideally it needs to promote a shared system of values and principles (accountability, transparency, fairness and human rights). How can this be translated into new challenges the system and its users are facing?

The administrative justice system is made up of many institutions that do not usually communicate. There are many pressing issues that need to be addressed across institutions, across academic disciplines and across diverse stakeholders. We propose to hold 4 workshops and a conference that bring together all these stakeholders to explore current topics [for example: digitalization, data labs, ombudsman reform, tribunal reform, administrative decision-making, cognitive biases and AI]. The novel approach is that we facilitate an exchange between those actors in the administrative justice system that desperately need to listen and learn from each other. The workshops and the conference will allow exploring different angles to take the debates into new areas. The exchange will enable partnerships, learning from best-practise and developing ideas for future collaboration and follow-on projects. New insights will feed directly into the institutions and will be translated into practise. There is a great appetite and support for the workshops and the conference from the Administrative Justice Council (AJC), JUSTICE, the Cabinet office and the senior president of the tribunals. The planned events will include academics [economists, behavioural psychologists, internet academics e.g. Oxford Internet Institute, socio-legal scholars], government officials, interested public and charities.

The aim is to develop a platform for increased engagement, collaboration and exchange of ideas between academics, practitioners, judges, ombudsman schemes and interest groups including those who assist the vulnerable and unfunded in obtaining access to justice.

The planned events will assist in creating a framework to address urgent issues that are of strategic importance for the functioning of the institutions of the administrative justice system. The events will also provide an excellent opportunity to network and build collaborations for future projects. We have full support of the SPT, MoJ and JUSTICE.

Planned Impact

The administrative justice system suffers an identity crisis. There is no feeling of togetherness of the individual branches. The aim is to unite the parts of administrative justice into one recognizable system. This includes creating a basis for understanding, learning and strategic thinking. It is essential at this time of reform and modernization to produce evidence-based understanding of the use, operation and effect of administrative justice system. The planned events start just this process. They enable an exchange and generate impact through interaction between parts of the administrative justice system and its users.
The events are targeted at policy makers and government (local, regional and devolved levels), the institutions of the Administrative Justice System (AJS): ombudsman schemes, courts, tribunals, as well as their users. Professional and practitioner groups, charities and the wider public are beneficiaries.

Overall these groups will contribute to advancing the debate and help shape the future of the AJS:
- connecting stakeholders that would usually not have direct interaction;
- focus of the workshops on current issues (digitalization, administrative decision-making, ombudsman schemes and tribunals, users of the AJS) will help shape the agenda to find solutions and to help link disparate parts of a whole together;
- foster lasting relationships and exchange through the network;
- provide longer term collaborations between actors;
- set up interdisciplinary academic projects and follow-up events.

Policy & government: The planned events will provide policy makers and government with information that will allow for future development of evidence-based policy. In particular, understanding how the individual branches of the AJS could improve their processes and interactions with each other. There are valuable lessons to be learned in a time of reform and modernisation.

The Administrative Justice system: Broadly speaking the institutions targeted in the workshops (ombudsman schemes, courts and tribunals) will be the prime beneficiaries. Current practises will be analysed and new processes and policies suggested to maximise efficiency and user-friendliness. Members of ombudsmen and tribunals will be actively engaged in the workshops and will help co-produce practical outcomes and recommendations. The aim is to foster learning and understanding that takes place to translate into an evidence base - a toolkit - to support change towards a better and more integrated system.
The targeted institutions will benefit from the planned events by gaining a better understanding of their processes and future challenges. The findings are transferable to other contexts and will encourage cross-fertilization through training and staff development.

Law reform and Human Rights Organizations: Organizations that engage in our events will be able to effectively demonstrate the value of their work through being part of the proposed programme of change and also directly contribute to the direction and prioritise the discussed themes. The network will benefit from the expertise of these organisations.

Wider public / users: The events will enhance visibility and question access to the institutions of the AJS. People will be more aware of its functions and how they might access it. The workshops will shed light on processes and structures which will improve the functioning of the services, leading to fuller participation, and resulting in benefits in terms of social justice and engagement. Wider societal and economic impacts will be achieved through knowledge exchange and the development of new and innovative processes.
The desired outcome of the events is to trigger change through policy and legislative reform. The contribution to these processes will be to provide a store of evidence-based arguments and for policy makers to use. The workshops and conference are a start to a more prolonged engagement with players


10 25 50
Description Although our award has been extended due to Covid we were not able to hold our conference (planned for later this year) we have managed to leave a significant trace already. we have identified gaps in the administrative justice system and have held events. workshops to bring practitioners and academics together to discuss how to fill these gaps and how to create work programmes of collaboration and engagement.

Basically it was really good that we got an extension to the funding and held some more workshops to widen the reach of the project and AJC - overall this has been hugely successful.
Exploitation Route we have identified many areas of concern for the administrative justice system and will follow up on them, we have for example applied for follow-up finding to enhance ombudsmen and tribunals working together more closely, we engage regularly with the MoJ and DWP and HMCTS to advance projects and ideas, we are starring a new project on health /justice hubs in hospital settings and have huge buy-in for this too.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Healthcare

Description it is a bit too soon to say what the full scope of impact is but so far we have had impact in non-academic groups: - judges - NGOS - advice sector - pro-bono We have further brought together these groups with academics and created future opportunities for collaboration and exchange we had some impact with our health justice report for hospitals and welfare advice, especially at the children's hospitals and CAB
First Year Of Impact 2021
Sector Government, Democracy and Justice
Impact Types Cultural,Societal,Economic,Policy & public services

Description academic pop-up event 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact The aim was to bring together practitioners to identify research that is needed in their areas and to give academics the opportunity to follow this up with a conversation and potential collaboration.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
Description administrative justice outsourcing 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact a workshop discussion on outsourcing and administrative justice with experts in administrative justice from the advice and ombudsman sector.The purpose of the workshop was to share knowledge and experience about how administrative justice works when public services are delivered by outsourcing companies and the implications of this. There was a wide-ranging discussion about the multiple ways in which the outsourcing of public services and decision-making influences and shapes administrative justice.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
Description ombudsman and tribunals familiarisation workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This was the first workshop of its kind bringing together ombudsmen and tribunal judges and academics to talk about their work and potential overlap and collaboration. it was a very productive meeting and resulted in informal collaborations between ombuds and tribunals that lasted through the pandemic. it also led to a grant application (awaiting outcome) to further delve into this project with 100% stakeholder and advice sector buy in.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019