What is administrative & public law?

Administrative & public law is the area of law that governs the relationship between public authorities (such as the government, local authorities or a tribunal) and citizens

Public authorities (specifically, the government) can make decisions about the rights of individuals and it is therefore important that they do so within the remit of the law.

If you feel that a public body has treated you unfairly, you can challenge that treatment

Challenging public authorities can be done via right of appeal or, if there is no such right of appeal, by way of judicial review

In the UK, public law is made up of constitutional/administrative law, tax law, criminal law and human rights law. 

Public law in practice...

Lawyers working in public law will deal with individuals that wish to challenge the treatment provided by a public body. 

Where a public body acts unlawfully, the methods of challenging that behaviour/decision include:

  • complaining using the public bodies' complaints procedures or Ombudsman 

  • exercising rights of appeal to a tribunal (if such a right exists in relation to the decision that is being challenged)

  • asking a public body to review its decision

  • through the judicial review process 

Lawyers specialising in public law will assist their clients with any or all of the above methods. 

Judicial Review

Judicial Review is a process (a court case) where a judge decides whether a public body has behaved unlawfully. Judicial Review is essential to ensure that the courts and judiciary have oversight of the government. 

SEPARATION OF POWERS is the relationship between Parliament, the Courts and Judiciary and the Executive.

This constitutional model exists to prevent an ABUSE OF POWER!


(power to put law into action)


(power to make judgements on law)


(power to make and change the law)

It aims to ensure that the government cannot exercise power in the UK without the proper CHECKS AND BALANCES in place.

Typical tasks of a Public Law Lawyer...

Public Law Lawyers will generally:

  • research government policies and decisions and respective overseeing laws

  • undertake case law research and analysis (of previous cases in the sector) and put together a case for a client

  • attend client meetings and liaise with clients regularly to get as much information from a client about their case as possible 

  • speak to public policy experts to assist with building a client's case

  • attend hearings in court and prepare the judicial review paperwork

  • prepare reports and assist with the preparation of complaints and challenges

  • barristers will advocate the case if it reaches trial in court and will work closely with the solicitor throughout by providing directors and advice at each stage (before it reaches trial)

Law firms to consider...

The following firms are ranked Band 1 to 4 or are a recognised practitioner for Administrative & Public Law in the UK by Chambers and Partners:

  • Fieldfisher

  • Hogan Lovells

  • Baker McKenzie

  • Bevan Brittan LLP

  • Kingsley Napley LLP

  • Browne Jacobson LLP

  • Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP

  • CMS

  • Mills & Reeve LLP

  • Trowers & Hamlins LLP

  • Bindmans LLP

  • Herbert Smith Freehills

  • Allen & Overy LLP

  • Bates Wells

  • DAC Beachcroft LLP

  • BDB Pitmans LLP