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Virtual hub for administrative justice research and development

By Nuffield Foundation

The Nuffield Foundation is funding a new programme of work designed to kick-start the expansion of empirical research in administrative justice.

We have invited institutions with an interest in administrative justice research to apply for up to £250,000 to establish a ‘virtual hub’, consisting of a range of synthesis, review, dissemination and engagement activities, designed to:

  • Develop a research agenda and stimulate new inter-disciplinary work
  • Strengthen links between policy/practice and research communities
  • Identify and tackle capacity constraints

The funding will be for a maximum of three years, after which the virtual hub is expected to be self-supporting.

The work of the virtual hub will address the following issues and questions:

  • The operation of different administrative justice mechanisms – how they work, what their strengths and weaknesses are, and what principles might guide policy-makers when choosing between them
  • Incentives and structures for encouraging good early decision-making that could avoid disputes which may later require resolution in court or through other formal redress mechanisms
  • Efficiency and effectiveness – whether and how legal and other professional input can be ‘designed in’ the system so that a wider set of citizens and consumers benefit
  • Access to justice – what happens to those who do not have access to the formal legal system or legal advice?
  • Enforcement and outcomes– looking at implementation, feedback mechanisms, and the institutional options for improving monitoring and enforcement.
Why administrative justice?

The administrative justice system is a key mechanism for individuals to hold the state, public services, and state regulated businesses to account. But administrative justice issues are relatively under-researched, especially using empirical methods on outcomes as well as processes.

We have been concerned about this limited empirical research capacity for some time, and the grants we fund through our Law in Society programme have played a part in addressing it. By funding the virtual hub, we hope to increase momentum in ensuring that learning from objective evidence is applied, and that substantial new policy and practice developments are empirically tested. We are particularly keen to engage additional researchers and academics working in related fields and disciplines to complement the input of socio-legal researchers.

More information about the virtual hub is available in the prospectus (PDF). 

Application process

Eligible institutions have been invited to apply for funding, by mid-February 2014. Applications will be peer-reviewed and assessed by a selection panel convened by the Foundation. The final decision will be made by Trustees.

Application is by invitation only. Unsolicited applications will not be accepted, but if you are an empirical researcher with a strong track record in addressing these questions, and are interested in working with those invited to apply, please email Alison Rees –  

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We improve people’s lives by funding research that informs social policy, primarily in EducationWelfare and Justice. We also fund student programmes that give young people skills and confidence in science and research.

We offer our grant-holders the freedom to frame questions and enable new thinking. Our research must stand up to rigorous academic scrutiny, but we understand that to be successful in effecting change, it also needs to be relevant to people’s experience.