Law and legitimacy in administrative justice research

Halliday, Simon (2023) Law and legitimacy in administrative justice research. Social and Legal Studies, 32 (2). pp. 318-331. ISSN 0964-6639 (

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The first thing one notices about Robert Thomas' book is the prioritisation of his intended contributions, evident in the book's title. In a monograph that devotes eight of its ten chapters to a detailed description of the work of the UK's immigration departments, it is telling that he leads with the notion of 'administrative law in action' rather than 'immigration administration'. In the main core of his book, over roughly 250 pages, Thomas offers us a weighty analysis of the structure and operation of immigration decision-making. In reading it, one gets the sense of a scholar who is at the top of his game. It is something of a tour de force, an authoritative and comprehensive account that is hugely impressive. He takes the reader on a guided tour of the various features that, in combination, make up the UK's immigration system. We learn about organisational structures, rules and guidance, caseworking, enforcement and redress. He also discusses the Windrush scandal in depth and, more generally, addresses the phenomenon of bureaucratic oppression, which he identifies in many aspects of the routine work of these departments.