Parliamentary casework in socio-legal perspective

a case study of complaint handling by Members of the Scottish Parliament


  • Chris Gill University of Glasgow


This article is concerned with parliamentary casework, the process through which parliamentarians deal with individual problems raised by their constituents. Casework has principally be studied by political scientists, and the article makes a case for the value in adopting a socio-legal approach. In doing so, one of the article’s contributions is to propose a distinctively socio-legal framing of the issues, along with a series of research questions to define the field and guide future study. The value of a socio-legal approach is demonstrated through a case study examining the casework of Members of the Scottish Parliament. The case study findings allow for a number of substantive contributions to be made to the casework literature. These include: providing a more granular account of parliamentarians’ casework role; highlighting the critical importance of casework staff to the delivery of casework; and showing the limited connections between casework and other parliamentary roles. The major contribution of the article is to propose of model of parliamentary casework which seeks to identify its key features as a mechanism of grievance resolution, highlighting how it connects to, and is distinct from, other forms of legal and administrative redress.