Photo of Joe Tomlinson

Joe Tomlinson

Position: Lecturer in Public Law
Email Address:
Telephone: +44 (0)114 222 6831
Room No: EF03
Feedback and Consultation Availability: You can book an appointment online to see me

Academic Profile

I am a Lecturer in Public Law. Previously, I studied for my bachelor’s degree and a doctorate in public law at the University of Manchester, where I was also a Teaching Assistant. In 2015-16, I was a Visiting Lecturer in Law at King's College London.

My work focuses on constitutional law, administrative law, and administrative justice. (I also have residual interests in EU law, EEA law, fundamental rights, and comparative public law). Further details of my projects and publications are available below.

Prior to joining the University of Sheffield, I worked in President Baudenbacher's Chamber (the Lichtenstein Cabinet) at the EFTA Court (Luxembourg), at the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law (London), at the British Institute for International and Comparative Law’s Competition Law Forum, as Legal Assistant to leading silk Gerard McDermott QC (Manchester/London), and at City litigation boutique Joseph Hage Aaronson LLP (London).


  • LL.B (Hons), University of Manchester (first class, ranked second in University);
  • Ph.D Law, University of Manchester (to be submitted 2016) (President’s Doctoral Scholar)

Teaching and Learning

I teach in the areas I research and my research informs my teaching. I encourage students to think critically about public law and to independently develop an understanding of the state and how it is empowered and constrained.

The modules I teach are:

Advanced Constitutional Law
Advanced Administrative Law and Justice
Contemporary Issues in Law and Justice
Public Law in the UK and EU

Research Interests

My work spans all of public law: inclusive of constitutional law, administrative law, and administrative justice (I also have residual interests in EU law, EEA law, fundamental rights, constitutional theory, and comparative public law). My projects are, generally, designed to have impact, work with external partners (including funders, associations, practitioners, government bodies etc.), and develop research networks.

Recently, I have been working on a project with Professor Robert Thomas (University of Manchester), funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, concerning government decision-making and administrative review. I have also been completing a project concerning the theoretical underpinnings of the doctrine of legitimate expectations in English public law, which will be published as a monograph.

Other projects currently in progress or being developed concern: immigration judicial reviews (with Professor Robert Thomas, University of Manchester); panel size in the UK Supreme Court (with Jake W. Rylatt, University of Cambridge); and the relationship between judicial lectures and constitutional norms (with Sebsatian Payne, University of Kent).

Areas of Research Supervision

I welcome enquires about supervising research in, or related to, constitutional law, administrative law, and administrative justice. If you are considering research in these areas then—however advanced your thoughts on a project, or undertaking research more generally, are—I would be happy to consult.

Recent Invited Papers and Keynotes

  • Joe Tomlinson, “Judicial Lectures and the Constitution: A Preliminary Analysis” (2016) Edinburgh Constitutional Law Discussion Group, University of Edinburgh (forthcoming)
  • Joe Tomlinson and Robert Thomas, “Reconsidering Public Law Reform” (2016) Public Law Reform Now, University of Sussex (forthcoming)
  • Joe Tomlinson and Jake Rylatt, “Panel Size Practices in the UKSC–The Case for Reform and Some Preliminaries” (2016) Jesus College, University of Oxford
  • Joe Tomlinson "Prospects for Constitutional Change" (2015) Unlock Democracy's Magna Carta Event, Manchester

Seminars/conferences I have recently organised include:

  • (with Robert Thomas, University of Manchester) “Administrative Justice: Engaging with Government to Improve Administrative Decision-Making” (2016) ESRC Seminar, Institute of Advanced Legal Studies
  • (with Jack Simson Caird, House of Commons Library) “Debating the Constitution after the General Election” (2015) UK Constitutional Law Association Conference, University of Manchester

Key Projects/Grants


Administrative Justice: Engaging with Government to Improve Administrative Decision-Making
This project asks: how can government make good quality initial decisions? Every year, government bodies make millions of individualised decisions, e.g. whether someone qualifies for social security benefits, immigration status, asylum, or compensation. This project will, for the first-time, engage directly with policy-makers from across government to analyse the challenges, to enable learning, and to explore solutions.

This project aims to: (i) provide a deeper understanding as to how government bodies respond to the challenge of administrative justice, in particular how they supervise their decision-making and seek to make better decisions; (ii) develop a set of agreed principles that can inform how systems of internal review can be designed and operated; (iii) provide a clearer picture as to how public bodies can promote good initial decisions; and (iv) engage in the co-creation of knowledge with policy-makers.

Awarding Body: Economic and Social Research Council (Impact Acceleration Grant)
People Involved: Professor Robert Thomas (collaborator) (University of Manchester); HMCTS; UK Administrative Justice Institute; Administrative Justice Forum
Dates: 2016-2017
Amount: £5,000

Administrative Justice, Administrative Review, and the Independent Case Examiner
There are various systems of administrative review that have grown up in different administrative contexts e.g. social security, tax, and immigration. These systems, taken together, constitute one of the most important checks on the exercise of state power. The office of the Independent Case Examiner (“ICE”) reviews complaints about certain government organisations that deal with benefits, work, and financial support. Within the UK administrative justice and public law fields, there is little awareness of the ICE, even less reference to it, and an absence of a serious study of it.

The first aim of this project is to produce a detailed and critical picture of the development, functions, and performance of the ICE (evidence is to be drawn from available statistical data, interviews undertaken with relevant actors, and literature reviews). The second aim of this study is to situate the ICE within the context of internal administrative review, drawing upon the work of Thomas, and the broader theoretical framework of administrative justice, drawing principally upon the work of Mashaw and Adler. This exercise allows boarder lessons about how review institutions within government do and ought to function to be extracted.

Awarding Body: Grant bid pending
People Involved: The Office of the Independent Case Examiner
Dates: 2017
Amount: Grant bid pending

The Conceptual Foundations of Legitimate Expectation in English Public Law
Is there a settled and convincing normative justification for the doctrine of legitimate expectation in English public law? It is has become almost de rigueur to suggest there is not. There are many who now claim that the doctrine suffers from the absence of a clear conceptual footing. Others even suggest that this wayward doctrine would be assisted by identification of some sort of “meta-value,” as this would “provide invaluable guidance to difficult questions concerning the scope and effect of the doctrine.” This project explores these increasingly prominent lines of thought by explaining and analysing various conceptions of the doctrine, arguing for a conceptual pluralist approach.

Awarding Body: University of Manchester President’s Award
People Involved:
Dates: 2013-2016
Amount: £44,178

Professional activities and recognition

Scholarships, prizes, and awards I have received include:

  • Phoenicia Scholarship, Bar European Group (2015)
  • Administrative Law Bar Association Scholarship (2015)
  • Administrative Law Bar Association Scholarship (2014)
  • American Counsel Association McDermott International Scholarship, American Counsel Association (2013)
  • President’s Doctoral Scholarship, University of Manchester (2013-2017)
  • RG Lawson Prize for Consumer Law, University of Manchester (2013)
  • RG Lawson Prize for Modern Constitutionalism, University of Manchester (2013)
  • RG Lawson Prize for Best Undergraduate Dissertation in Law, University of Manchester (2013)
    Faculty of Humanities Dean’s Award for Outstanding Academic Performance, University of Manchester (2013)
  • Distinguished Contribution Award, University of Manchester School of Law (2013)

I am a part of the Steering Group for the Alumni Network at British Institute for International and Comparative Law. I am a member of the following organisations:

  • UK Constitutional Law Association
  • Administrative Law Bar Association
  • British Institute for International and Comparative Law
  • Bar Human Rights Committee
  • Bar European Group
  • European Circuit of the Bar
  • Middle Temple

I am an Editor of the European Law Reporter (Verlag Radical Brain S.A, Luxembourg).

Key Publications

Journal articles

Website content

  • Tomlinson JP & Thomas R Initial decision-making, internal review and administrative justice.
  • Tomlinson JP & Rylatt JW Neuberger’s Novelties: Keyu and the Substantive Review Debate.
  • Tomlinson JP & Thomas R Administrative justice – A primer for policymakers and those working in the system.