Charlotte O'Brien

Senior Lecturer in Law, University of York

I've been awarded an ESRC 'Future Research Leader' grant, with which I'm PI on the EU Rights Project, - working with EU migrants, Citizens Advice Services, and other advice agencies around the country, providing an advice and advocacy service while conducting an ethnography on the administrative and legal problems encountered. I have documented the effects of the recent welfare changes targeting EU migrants.

The project was described by reviewers as 'groundbreaking', 'tremendously innovative', 'strikingly original' and said 'the applicant’s background makes her possibly the only person of her generation in a position to credibly offer the opportunity to develop this methodology in this kind of context: access to civil justice, in supranational contexts’.

Having volunteered and worked in Citizens Advice Bureaux for over thirteen years, and specialised in EU legal research for eleven years, I have practical as well as academic expertise in UK welfare law, EU law, (particularly EU social law - welfare, free movement, citizenship and equal treatment), human rights law, equality and non-discrimination law (especially disability), the rights of carers, and child poverty.

I've been appointed an 'analytical expert' on the EU Commission's Free Movement and Social Security Coordination network, producing reports and giving litigation advice and suggestions to the Commission. I am also joint cases editor for the Journal of Social Security Law.

My work has been published in key international journals, such as the European Law Review, the Common Market Law Review, the Maastricht Journal of International and Comparative Law, and the Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law.

I've communicated about my research through various media, including the Today Programme on Radio 4, BBC Inside Out, and BBC Breakfast. I have given various public talks, including at the YorkTalks 2016, and in an Open Course lecture series on Law, Government and the Public, 2015.

My PhD in Law (Liverpool) was funded by the AHRC, and focussed on free movement, equal treatment and EU citizenship; during this I took part in two research projects on retirement migration funded by the Spanish Ministry for Employment & Social Affairs and Age Concern. These looked at the access to welfare services for post-retirement EU migrants, particularly UK nationals abroad. My LLM (Leeds) research involved study of the attempts to produce an EU constitution. My work is inherently interdisciplinary; my first degree was a BA in Social & Political Sciences, (Cambridge).


  • –present
    Senior Lecturer in Law, University of York


  • 2010 
    Liverpool, PhD Law