The Digitalisation of Tribunals: What we know and what we need to know


Dr Joe Tomlinson has completed a research project which has culminated in a report co-authored with Professor Robert Thomas (Professor of Public Law, University of Manchester). Dr Tomlinson is a lecturer in Public Law, University of Sheffield, and Research Director, Public Law Project.

It is based on developing research concerning online tribunals. The first part of the report is drawn partly from a previous piece of work: J Tomlinson, A Primer on the Digitisation of Administrative Tribunals (2017). Sarah McCloskey (LLB (Hons) Law, University of Sheffield) provided helpful research assistance on parts of the report.

Report Summary

Tribunals are a major part of the administrative justice system. The Government has begun to introduce digital procedures in tribunals but the full details of the changes remain to be seen. The Public Law Project report - commissioned by the UK Administrative Justice Institute—outlines ‘what we know and what we need to know’ about the digitalisation of tribunals. It takes the first steps towards establishing a research agenda for online tribunals and identifies a range of key research issues and questions.

During the project, I presented the work at the Ministry of Justice (at an internal staff seminar for civil servants) and the report is also forming the basis of the Public Law Project's strategy in relation to the introduction of online tribunals. I have also been sitting on the JUSTICE Assisted Digital Working Party to help build/disseminate this research, and was recently invited by the Senior President of Tribunals (who is leading on the tribunals reforms) to be part of the new Administrative Justice Council he is chairing. The House of Commons Justice Committee has also asked me to provide a briefing on the reforms to inform their oversight of the reforms. The research I have completed so far is going to published in the Journal of Social Security Law but I am also writing another article which I will present at the Melbourne Public Law Conference this summer.

Dr Joe Tomlinson

The Public Law Project

Dr Tomlinson is Director of Research at the Public Law Project (PLP). PLP is an independent national legal charity. Their mission is to improve public decision making and facilitate access to justice. They work through a combination of research and policy work, training and conferences, and providing second-tier support and legal casework including public interest litigation.

Their strategic objectives are to:

  • Uphold the Rule of Law
  • Ensure fair systems
  • Improve access to justice


Dr Tomlinson has been part of a collaborative project with the UK Administrative Justice Institute, the Public Law Project, and the University of Manchester and University of Sheffield. The project also recieved funding from the Nufield Foundation.

Read the The Digitalisation of Tribunals: What we know and what we need to know report here

Flagship institutes

The University’s four flagship institutes bring together our key strengths to tackle global issues, turning interdisciplinary and translational research into real-world solutions.