Regulation and social justice

We are committed to research that improves the lives of local and international communities.

Our regulation team comprise a diverse range of experts who work in collaboration with those involved in policy, advocacy and practice.

This allows us to make important contributions to socially relevant public debate and policy and inform regulation across a number of sectors.

Areas of focus

  • access to justice;
  • administrative law and justice;
  • asylum and immigration law;
  • competition and antitrust;
  • corporate social responsibility;
  • environmental regulation and policy;
  • European Union law;
  • human rights;
  • labour and employment law;
  • law and the family;
  • law of gender and sexuality;
  • law of trusts;
  • legal History;
  • media and communications;
  • policing and criminal justice;
  • professional regulation;
  • public law;
  • regulation of science and technologies;
  • regulation of public services;
  • religion and the law.


Place-based Integration: Exploring Police Reform in a Multi-agency Setting - Drivers and Inhibitors 

  • Principal Investigator: Dr Graham Smith.
  • Funder: ESRC IAA. 

This project develops previous work with Greater Manchester Police (GMP) which investigated drivers and obstacles to the development and implementation of place-based integration (PBI). PBI is a rapidly moving policy initiative that seeks to address behaviours commonly subjected to criminal justice interventions by bringing together a range of public service resources within the same location with the aim of adopting alternative solutions. 

The State as a Socially Responsible Customer Alliance 

  • Principal Investigators: Aristea Koukiadaki (with Mathew Johnson, Stephen Mustchin and Laura Watt).
  • Funder: MBS Strategic research investment fund (SRIF) (2017-2021). 

The aim of this proposed interdisciplinary research project is to investigate the design and implementation of public procurement contracts, the influence of formal and informal notions of social responsibility and their combined effects on employment conditions in publicly contracted companies. Designed to respond to significant gaps in knowledge and in policy and practice, the research will focus in particular on decision-making processes, the negotiation of conflicting interests (eg local authority budget targets, legal restrictions, social responsibility norms, profit interests and employee concerns) and interactions with regulatory and organisational policy and practice. 

Autonomy, rights and children with special needs: a new paradigm? 

  • Funder: Economic and Social Research Council.
  • Principal investigator: Prof Neville Harris (led by The University of Edinburgh). 

The ESRC research project on Autonomy, Rights and Children with Special Needs: A New Paradigm? (ES/P002641/1) is examining the implementation of legislation in England and Scotland which has established a new framework of rights for children and young people with special educational needs (or, in Scotland, additional support needs) in relation to education decision-making. The English part of the research is being led by Professor Neville Harris, assisted by Dr Gail Davidge and will assess how effectively in practice the local arrangements, established under the Children and Families 2014, are ensuring that children and young people with special educational needs are able to realise their enhanced rights. 

Many of the rights accorded to children and young people under the 2014 Act are concerned with their participation and local authority engagement with their views in the various processes by which decisions about their education are made and any disputes arising over them are resolved. But they also offer children and young people collectively an opportunity to influence the state’s determination and review of local special educational provision. These kinds of empowerment and rights of participation would be consistent with the state’s obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. But they are not being introduced against a settled background, but rather in the context of transition and change in this field. 

Immigration Judicial Reviews 

  • Funder: The Nuffield Foundation.
  • Principal investigator: Prof Robert Thomas (with The University of Sheffield). 

This project asks: how is the system of immigration and judicial review operating in practice? Could some of these cases be better and more efficiently handled through an alternative process? 

The 16,000 immigration and judicial reviews lodged each year are pushing at the limit of what the judicial system can cope with. However, policy-makers lack a detailed understanding of this area of litigation, and there is a need to identify: 

What specific types and categories of immigration and judicial reviews are lodged and why? 

What proportion of these challenges could be resolved more effectively through an alternative dispute resolution model? 

What are the options for an alternative approach and how could they be modelled? 

See the project website for more information.