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Immigration judicial reviews

Researchers: Professor Robert Thomas | Dr Joe Tomlinson

Project overview

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?

The Ministry of Justice and HM Courts and Tribunals Service lack the robust data they require, and are keen to have this research. The project will collect and analyse data on:

  • The types of immigration and judicial reviews lodged and their outcomes.
  • The drivers of such litigation as well as litigant motivation and behaviour.
  • Alternative approaches to dispute resolution and system costs.

Data will be collected from a sample of case-files and interviews with representatives, judges, and officials. The project will provide a robust evidence base and frame policy recommendations. It will provide important insights into how this dispute procedure operates in practice and the feasible alternatives. An advisory group will involve policy-makers in research design and enhance the project’s impact.


  • Professor Robert Thomas
    University of Manchester
  • Dr Joe Tomlinson
    University of Sheffield

  • Ash Patel
    Programme Head, Justice
    Nuffield Foundation
  • Director, Justice
    Nuffield Foundation

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

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