Decisions taken by public bodies are regularly challenged, both formally and more informally through persuasion and negotiation. Often, persuasive negotiation can result in a decision-maker thinking again, or taking a different approach.

We have particularly good insight into this process as we act both for public bodies and for organisations challenging decisions, and this experience allows us to develop realistic strategies for the public and private bodies that we work with.

When decisions cannot, or will not, be altered, formal challenges are the only option for challenge, either through judicial review or, if available, a statutory appeal. We are experts in defending and challenging decisions both internationally and domestically in judicial reviews, and appearing in statutory appeals in the lower courts and tribunals throughout the UK.

A successful public law challenge can have a significant impact on the reputation and standing of the decision-maker, especially following rulings that the decision-maker failed to meet basic and expected standards of fairness and transparency. Formal discovery processes and obligations allow scrutiny of internal communications and with it the risk that the approaches of individuals are subject to judicial and wider public criticism.

Much of our work with public bodies is focused on ensuring that decisions are taken in conformity with public law principles, that consultative processes are appropriate and on empowering individual decision-makers to make robust and clear decisions. This work informs, and adds significant value to the advice we also provide to private organisations.

Our services

Advice on legal challenge: clear and pragmatic advice on the lawfulness of decisions and decision-making processes for public body decision-makers, and for organisations considering challenging a decision. We have extensive experience in advising on a range of topic areas, including human rights, fairness and equality across a wide span of sectors, and have particular expertise in advising on EU law.

Strategic negotiation: we have significant expertise in negotiating solutions when decisions are challenged, both for public bodies and for organisations impacted by the decision. Our approach is characterised by developing and agreeing a well-developed strategy for negotiation, alongside clear legal positioning (backed up by strong legal analysis) and a tenacious approach to pursuing strategic objectives.

Advocacy and representation: our team includes skilled litigators and advocates (with higher rights of audience in the Scottish courts), all with extensive experience of acting in formal proceedings before courts and tribunals in the UK, and experience of representing clients before the courts of the EU and internationally.

Our experience

Acted in multiple challenges to the decision of public bodies, before the higher courts and in tribunals. Our expertise encompasses a wide range of sector areas, including: care services, energy, security, medical and professional, and we have acted for many key public bodies: the Law Society of Scotland, the Standards Commission in Scotland, the Security Industry Authority, the British Dental Association and the energy regulators in both Northern Ireland and the Island of Ireland.

Acted in many high-profile, sensitive and multi-million-pound regulatory investigations and provided extensive advice on public law challenges to regulatory decision-making, involving preparing multiple legal briefings, position papers and developing agile negotiating strategies.

  • They are responsive, have good working knowledge of the law and a particularly strong understanding of the personalities of judges, so their advice is strategic.