What is public law, and why is it important?

Public bodies, such as central and local government, have to obey the law.  The type of law governing the conduct of public bodies is known as ‘public law’.  Public law principles mean that public bodies act lawfully, rationally, fairly, and compatibly with the human rights of those affected by their actions.

Public authorities sometimes make decisions that feel like they are incorrect or unfair.  Where a public body acts unlawfully, there are a number of ways that those affected can challenge that behaviour or decision. These include:

  • Complaining using public bodies’ complaints procedures or Ombudsmen
  • Exercising rights of appeal to a tribunal (if such rights exist in relation to the particular decision to be challenged, such as in welfare benefits cases)
  • Asking a public body to review its decision
  • Through a process called judicial review

Judicial review

Sometimes you can make a formal complaint, but this isn't always the most efficient use of time. Judicial review may be the best way to tackle the situation.  It  is a legal process that can be used to challenge decisions by public authorities, but many people don’t know about it or, if they do, may think it means having to go to court. Often, this isn't the case.  

To learn more about judicial reviews, what can be challenged and whether they may be relevant to you, read our factsheet here.

If you are a resident in Coventry or Birmingham and you need support bringing a claim for judicial review:

If you are in Coventry please call: 02476 223 053

If you are in Birmingham please call: 0121 227 6540  

Monday to Thursday 09.00am - 5.00pm

Friday 09.00am - 4.30pm

We are closed for lunch between 1.00pm - 2.00pm each day.

Or email [email protected]

If emailing, please put "Public Law Enquiry" in the subject line. If phoning, please say that you are ringing with a "Public Law Enquiry".