Administrative law is the body of law that governs the activities of administrative agencies of government. Government agency action can include rule making, adjudication, or the enforcement of a specific regulatory agenda. Administrative law is considered a branch of public law. As a body of law, administrative law deals with the decision-making of the administrative units of government (for example, tribunals, boards or commissions) that are part of a national regulatory scheme in such areas as police law, international trade, manufacturing, the environment, taxation, broadcasting, immigration and transport. Administrative law expanded greatly during the twentieth century, as legislative bodies worldwide created more government agencies to regulate the social, economic and political spheres of human interaction.
Civil law countries often have specialized courts, administrative courts, that review these decisions.
Unlike most common-law jurisdictions, the majority of civil law jurisdictions have specialized courts or sections to deal with administrative cases which, as a rule, will apply procedural rules specifically designed for such cases and different from that applied in private-law proceedings, such as contract or tort claims.
In Brazil, unlike most Civil-law jurisdictions, there is no specialized court or section to deal with administrative cases. In 1998, a constitutional reform, led by the government of President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, introduced regulatory agencies as a part of the executive branch. Since 1988, Brazilian administrative law has been strongly influenced by the judicial interpretations of the constitutional principles of public administration (art. 37 of Federal Constitution): legality, impersonality, publicity of administrative acts, morality and efficiency.
The President of the Republic exercises the administrative function, in collaboration with several Ministries or other authorities with ministerial rank. Each Ministry has one or more under-secretary that performs through public services the actual satisfaction of public needs. There is not a single specialized court to deal with actions against the Administrative entities, but instead there are several specialized courts and procedures of review.
In France, most claims against the national or local governments as well as claims against private bodies providing public services  are handled by administrative courts, which use the Conseil d'État (Council of State) as a court of last resort for both ordinary and special courts. The main administrative courts are the tribunaux administratifs and appeal courts are the cours administratives d'appel. Special administrative courts include the National Court of Asylum Right as well as military, medical and judicial disciplinary bodies. The French body of administrative law is called "droit administratif".
Over the course of their history, France's administrative courts have developed an extensive and coherent case law (jurisprudence constante) and legal doctrine (principes généraux du droit and principes fondamentaux reconnus par les lois de la République), often before similar concepts were enshrined in constitutional and legal texts. These principes include:
French administrative law, which is the founder of Continental administrative law, has a strong influence on administrative laws in several other countries such as Belgium, Greece, Turkey and Tunisia.
Administrative law in Germany, called "Verwaltungsrecht" de:Verwaltungsrecht (Deutschland), generally rules the relationship between authorities and the citizens and therefore, it establishes citizens' rights and obligations against the authorities. It is a part of the public law, which deals with the organization, the tasks and the acting of the public administration. It also contains rules, regulations, orders and decisions created by and related to administrative agencies, such as federal agencies, federal state authorities, urban administrations, but also admission offices and fiscal authorities etc. Administrative law in Germany follows three basic principles.
Administrative law in Germany can be divided into general administrative law and special administrative law.
The general administration law is basically ruled in the administrative procedures law (Verwaltungsverfahrensgesetz [VwVfG]). Other legal sources are the Rules of the Administrative Courts (Verwaltungsgerichtsordnung [VwGO]), the social security code (Sozialgesetzbuch [SGB]) and the general fiscal law (Abgabenordnung [AO]).
The Verwaltungsverfahrensgesetz (VwVfG), which was enacted in 1977, regulates the main administrative procedures of the federal government. It serves the purpose to ensure a treatment in accordance with the rule of law by the public authority. Furthermore, it contains the regulations for mass processes and expands the legal protection against the authorities. The VwVfG basically applies for the entire public administrative activities of federal agencies as well as federal state authorities, in case of making federal law. One of the central clause is § 35 VwVfG. It defines the administrative act, the most common form of action in which the public administration occurs against a citizen. The definition in § 35  says, that an administration act is characterized by the following features:
§§ 36 – 39, §§ 58 – 59 and § 80 VwV––fG rule the structure and the necessary elements of the administrative act. § 48 and § 49 VwVfG have a high relevance in practice, as well. In these paragraphs, the prerequisites for redemption of an unlawful administration act (§ 48 VwVfG ) and withdrawal of a lawful administration act (§ 49 VwVfG ), are listed.
Administration procedural law (Verwaltungsgerichtsordnung [VwGO]), which was enacted in 1960, rules the court procedures at the administrative court. The VwGO is divided into five parts, which are the constitution of the courts, action, remedies and retrial, costs and enforcement15 and final clauses and temporary arrangements.
In absence of a rule, the VwGO is supplemented by the code of civil procedure (Zivilprozessordnung [ZPO]) and the judicature act (Gerichtsverfassungsgesetz [GVG]). In addition to the regulation of the administrative procedure, the VwVfG also constitutes the legal protection in administrative law beyond the court procedure. § 68 VwVGO rules the preliminary proceeding, called "Vorverfahren" or "Widerspruchsverfahren", which is a stringent prerequisite for the administrative procedure, if an action for rescission or a writ of mandamus against an authority is aimed. The preliminary proceeding gives each citizen, feeling unlawfully mistreated by an authority, the possibility to object and to force a review of an administrative act without going to court. The prerequisites to open the public law remedy are listed in § 40 I VwGO. Therefore, it is necessary to have the existence of a conflict in public law without any constitutional aspects and no assignment to another jurisdiction.
The social security code (Sozialgesetzbuch [SGB]) and the general fiscal law are less important for the administrative law. They supplement the VwVfG and the VwGO in the fields of taxation and social legislation, such as social welfare or financial support for students (BaFÖG) etc.
The special administrative law consists of various laws. Each special sector has its own law. The most important ones are the
In Germany, the highest administrative court for most matters is the federal administrative court Bundesverwaltungsgericht. There are federal courts with special jurisdiction in the fields of social security law (Bundessozialgericht) and tax law (Bundesfinanzhof).
Administrative law in Italy, known as "'Diritto amministrativo", is a branch of public law, whose rules govern the organization of the public administration and the activities of the pursuit of the public interest of the public administration and the relationship between this and the citizens. Its genesis is related to the principle of division of powers of the State. The administrative power, originally called "executive", is to organize resources and people whose function is devolved to achieve the public interest objectives as defined by the law.
Administrative law in the People's Republic of China was virtually non-existent before the economic reform era initiated by Deng Xiaoping. Since the 1980s, the People's Republic of China has constructed a new legal framework for administrative law, establishing control mechanisms for overseeing the bureaucracy and disciplinary committees for the Communist Party of China. However, many have argued that the usefulness of these laws is vastly inadequate in terms of controlling government actions, largely because of institutional and systemic obstacles like a weak judiciary, poorly trained judges and lawyers, and corruption.
In 1990, the Administrative Supervision Regulations (行政检查条例) and the Administrative Reconsideration Regulations (行政复议条例) were passed. The 1993 State Civil Servant Provisional Regulations (国家公务员暂行条例) changed the way government officials were selected and promoted, requiring that they pass exams and yearly appraisals, and introduced a rotation system. The three regulations have been amended and upgraded into laws. In 1994, the State Compensation Law (国家赔偿法) was passed, followed by the Administrative Penalties Law (行政处罚法) in 1996. Administrative Compulsory Law was enforced in 2012. Administrative Litigation Law was amended in 2014. The General Administrative Procedure Law is under way.
According to the recently enacted Constitutional Procedure Act (憲法訴訟法) in 2019 (former Constitutional Interpretation Procedure Act, 1993), the Justices of the Constitutional Court of Judicial Yuan of Taiwan is in charge of judicial interpretation. This council has made 757 interpretations to date .
In Sweden, there is a system of administrative courts that considers only administrative law cases, and is completely separate from the system of general courts. This system has three tiers, with 12 county administrative courts (förvaltningsrätt) as the first tier, four administrative courts of appeal (kammarrätt) as the second tier, and the Supreme Administrative Court of Sweden (Högsta Förvaltningsdomstolen) as the third tier.
Migration cases are handled in a two-tier system, effectively within the system general administrative courts. Three of the administrative courts serve as migration courts (migrationsdomstol) with the Administrative Court of Appeal in Stockholm serving as the Migration Court of Appeal (Migrationsöverdomstolen).
In The Netherlands, administrative law provisions are usually contained in separate laws. There is however a single General Administrative Law Act ("Algemene wet bestuursrecht" or Awb) that applies both to the making of administrative decisions and the judicial review of these decisions in courts. On the basis of the Awb, citizens can oppose a decision ('besluit') made by an administrative agency ('bestuursorgaan') within the administration and apply for judicial review in courts if unsuccessful.
Unlike France or Germany, there are no special administrative courts of first instance in the Netherlands, but regular courts have an administrative "chamber" which specializes in administrative appeals. The courts of appeal in administrative cases however are specialized depending on the case, but most administrative appeals end up in the judicial section of the Council of State (Raad van State).
Before going to court, citizens must usually first object to the decision with the administrative body who made it. This is called "bezwaar". This procedure allows for the administrative body to correct possible mistakes themselves and is used to filter cases before going to court. Sometimes, instead of bezwaar, a different system is used called "administratief beroep" (administrative appeal). The difference with bezwaar is that administratief beroep is filed with a different administrative body, usually a higher ranking one, than the administrative body that made the primary decision. Administratief beroep is available only if the law on which the primary decision is based specifically provides for it. An example involves objecting to a traffic ticket with the district attorney ("officier van justitie"), after which the decision can be appealed in court.
In addition, Netherlands General Administrative Law Act (GALA) is a rather good sample of procedural laws in Europe
In Turkey, the lawsuits against the acts and actions of the national or local governments and public bodies are handled by administrative courts which are the main administrative courts. The decisions of the administrative courts are checked by the Regional Administrative Courts and Council of State. Council of State as a court of last resort is exactly similar to Conseil d'État in France.
As a homogeneous legal substance isolated in a system of jurisprudence, the administrative law of Ukraine is characterized as: (1) a branch of law; (2) a science; (3) a discipline.
Generally speaking, most countries that follow the principles of common law have developed procedures for judicial review that limit the reviewability of decisions made by administrative law bodies. Often these procedures are coupled with legislation or other common law doctrines that establish standards for proper rulemaking. Administrative law may also apply to review of decisions of so-called semi-public bodies, such as non-profit corporations, disciplinary boards, and other decision-making bodies that affect the legal rights of members of a particular group or entity.
While administrative decision-making bodies are often controlled by larger governmental units, their decisions could be reviewed by a court of general jurisdiction under some principle of judicial review based upon due process (United States) or fundamental justice (Canada). Judicial review of administrative decisions is different from an administrative appeal. When sitting in review of a decision, the Court will only look at the method in which the decision was arrived at, whereas in an administrative appeal the correctness of the decision itself will be examined, usually by a higher body in the agency. This difference is vital in appreciating administrative law in common law countries.
The scope of judicial review may be limited to certain questions of fairness, or whether the administrative action is ultra vires. In terms of ultra vires actions in the broad sense, a reviewing court may set aside an administrative decision if it is unreasonable (under Canadian law, following the rejection of the "Patently Unreasonable" standard by the Supreme Court in Dunsmuir v New Brunswick), Wednesbury unreasonable (under British law), or arbitrary and capricious (under U.S. Administrative Procedure Act and New York State law). Administrative law, as laid down by the Supreme Court of India, has also recognized two more grounds of judicial review which were recognized but not applied by English Courts, namely legitimate expectation and proportionality.
The powers to review administrative decisions are usually established by statute, but were originally developed from the royal prerogative writs of English law, such as the writ of mandamus and the writ of certiorari. In certain common law jurisdictions, such as India or Pakistan, the power to pass such writs is a Constitutionally guaranteed power. This power is seen as fundamental to the power of judicial review and an aspect of the independent judiciary.
In the federal government, the executive branch, led by the president, controls the federal executive departments, which are led by secretaries who are members of the United States Cabinet. The many independent agencies of the United States government created by statutes enacted by Congress exist outside of the federal executive departments but are still part of the executive branch.
Congress has also created some special judicial bodies known as Article I tribunals to handle some areas of administrative law.
The actions of executive agencies and independent agencies are the main focus of American administrative law. In response to the rapid creation of new independent agencies in the early twentieth century (see discussion below), Congress enacted the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) in 1946. Many of the independent agencies operate as miniature versions of the tripartite federal government, with the authority to "legislate" (through rulemaking; see Federal Register and Code of Federal Regulations), "adjudicate" (through administrative hearings), and to "execute" administrative goals (through agency enforcement personnel). Because the United States Constitution sets no limits on this tripartite authority of administrative agencies, Congress enacted the APA to establish fair administrative law procedures to comply with the constitutional requirements of due process. Agency procedures are drawn from four sources of authority: the APA, organic statutes, agency rules, and informal agency practice. It is important to note, though, that agencies can only act within their congressionally delegated authority, and must comply with the requirements of the APA.
The American Bar Association's official journal concerning administrative law is the Administrative Law Review, a quarterly publication that is managed and edited by students at the Washington College of Law.
Stephen Breyer, a U.S. Supreme Court Justice since 1994, divides the history of administrative law in the United States into six discrete periods, in his book, Administrative Law & Regulatory Policy (3d Ed., 1992):
The agricultural sector is one of the most heavily regulated sectors in the U.S. economy, as it is regulated in various ways at the international, federal, state, and local levels. Consequently, administrative law is a significant component of the discipline of agricultural law. The United States Department of Agriculture and its myriad agencies such as the Agricultural Marketing Service are the primary sources of regulatory activity, although other administrative bodies such as the Environmental Protection Agency play a significant regulatory role as well.
Adjudication is the legal process by which an arbiter or judge reviews evidence and argumentation, including legal reasoning set forth by opposing parties or litigants to come to a decision which determines rights and obligations between the parties involved.Administrative law in China
Administrative law in China was virtually non-existent before the economic reform era. Since the 1980s, China has constructed a new legal framework for administrative law, establishing control mechanisms for overseeing the bureaucracy and disciplinary committees for the Communist Party of China. However, many have argued that the usefulness of these laws are vastly inferior in terms of controlling government actions, largely because of institutional and systemic obstacles like a weak judiciary, poorly trained judges and lawyers, and corruption.Administrative law judge
An administrative law judge (ALJ) in the United States is a judge and trier of fact who both presides over trials and adjudicates the claims or disputes (in other words, ALJ-controlled proceedings are bench trials) involving administrative law.
ALJs can administer oaths, take testimony, rule on questions of evidence, and make factual and legal determinations. And depending upon the agency's jurisdiction, proceedings may have complex multi-party adjudication, as is the case with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or simplified and less formal procedures, as is the case with the Social Security Administration.Delegated legislation in the United Kingdom
Delegated legislation is law that is not passed by an Act of Parliament but by a government minister, a delegated person or an entity in the United Kingdom. Delegated legislation is used for a wide variety of purposes such as fixing the date on which an Act of Parliament will come into force; setting fees for a public service; or establishing the details of an Act of Parliament. Delegated legislation is dependent on its Parent Act which proscribes its parameters and procedures. Although a large volume of delegated legislation is written without close parliamentary scrutiny, there are Statutory Instruments to prevent its misuse.Executive officer
An executive officer (CCE) is generally a person responsible for running an organization, although the exact nature of the role varies depending on the organization. In many militaries, an executive officer, or "XO," is the second-in-command, reporting to the commanding officer. The XO is typically responsible for the management of day-to-day activities, freeing the commander to concentrate on strategy and planning the unit's next move.Frazione
"Frazione" (Italian pronunciation: [fratˈtsjoːne]; pl. frazioni [fratˈtsjoːni]) is the Italian name given in administrative law to a type of territorial subdivision of a comune; for other administrative divisions, see municipio, circoscrizione, quartiere. It is cognate to the English word fraction, but in practice is roughly equivalent to "parishes" or "wards" in other countries.Inspector
Inspector is both a police rank and an administrative position, both used in a number of contexts. However, it is not an equivalent rank in each police force.Law of Illinois
The law of Illinois consists of several levels, including constitutional, statutory, and regulatory law, as well as case law and local law. The Illinois Compiled Statutes (ILCS) form the general statutory law.List of Law Reports in Australia
Law reports covering the decisions of Australian Courts are collections of decisions by particulars courts, subjects or jurisdictions. A widely used guide to case citation in Australia is the Australian Guide to Legal Citation, published jointly by the Melbourne University Law Review and the Melbourne Journal of International Law.Order in Council
An Order in Council is a type of legislation in many countries, especially the Commonwealth realms. In the United Kingdom this legislation is formally made in the name of the Queen by and with the advice and consent of the Privy Council (Queen-in-Council), but in other countries the terminology may vary. The term should not be confused with Order of Council, which is made in the name of the Council without royal assent.Promulgation
Promulgation is the formal proclamation or declaration that a new statutory or administrative law is enacted after its final approval. In some jurisdictions, this additional step is necessary before the law can take effect.
After a new law is approved, it is announced to the public through the publication of government gazettes and/or on official government websites. National laws of extraordinary importance to the public may be announced by the head of state on national broadcast. Local laws are usually announced in local newspapers and published in bulletins or compendia of municipal regulations.Public law
Public law is that part of law which governs relationships between individuals and the government, and those relationships between individuals which are of direct concern to society. Public law comprises constitutional law, administrative law, tax law and criminal law, as well as all procedural law. In public law, mandatory rules prevail. Laws concerning relationships between individuals belong to private law.
The relationships public law governs are asymmetric and unequal – government bodies (central or local) can make decisions about the rights of individuals. However, as a consequence of the rule of law doctrine, authorities may only act within the law (secundum et intra legem). The government must obey the law. For example, a citizen unhappy with a decision of an administrative authority can ask a court for judicial review.
Rights, too, can be divided into private rights and public rights. A paragon of a public right is the right to welfare benefits – only a natural person can claim such payments, and they are awarded through an administrative decision out of the government budget.
The distinction between public law and private law dates back to Roman law. It has been picked up in the countries of civil law tradition at the beginning of the nineteenth century, but since then spread to common law countries, too.
The borderline between public law and private law is not always clear in particular cases, giving rise to attempts of theoretical understanding of its basis.Rulemaking
In administrative law, rule-making is the process that executive and independent agencies use to create, or promulgate, regulations. In general, legislatures first set broad policy mandates by passing statutes, then agencies create more detailed regulations through rulemaking.
By bringing detailed scientific and other types of expertise to bear on policy, the rulemaking process has been the means by which some of the most far-reaching government regulations of the 20th century have been created. For example, science-based regulations are critical to modern programs for environmental protection, food safety, and workplace safety. However, the growth in regulations has fueled criticism that the rulemaking process reduces the transparency and accountability of democratic government.Scots administrative law
Scots administrative law governs the rules of administrative law in Scotland, the body of case law, statutes, secondary legislation and articles which provide the framework of procedures for judicial control over government agencies and private bodies.Stephen Breyer
Stephen Gerald Breyer (; born August 15, 1938) is an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. A lawyer by occupation, he became a professor and jurist before President Bill Clinton appointed him to the Supreme Court in 1994; Breyer is generally associated with its more liberal side.After a clerkship with Supreme Court Associate Justice Arthur Goldberg in 1964, Breyer became well known as a law professor and lecturer at Harvard Law School, starting in 1967. There he specialized in administrative law, writing a number of influential textbooks that remain in use today. He held other prominent positions before being nominated for the Supreme Court, including special assistant to the United States Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust and assistant special prosecutor on the Watergate Special Prosecution Force in 1973. He also served on the First Circuit Court of Appeals from 1980 to 1994.
In his 2005 book Active Liberty, Breyer made his first attempt to systematically lay out his views on legal theory, arguing that the judiciary should seek to resolve issues in a manner that encourages popular participation in governmental decisions.Trier of fact
A trier of fact, or finder of fact, is a person, or group of persons, who determines facts in a legal proceeding, usually a trial. To determine a fact is to decide, from the evidence, whether something existed or some event occurred. Various aspects of a case that are not in controversy may be the "facts of the case" and are determined by the agreement of the separate parties; the trier of fact need not decide such issues.Ultra vires
Ultra vires is a Latin phrase meaning "beyond the powers". If an act requires legal authority and it is done with such authority, it is characterised in law as intra vires ("within the powers"). If it is done without such authority, it is ultra vires. Acts that are intra vires may equivalently be termed "valid" and those that are ultra vires "invalid".
Legal issues relating to ultra vires can arise in a variety of contexts:
Companies and other legal persons sometimes have limited legal capacity to act, and attempts to engage in activities beyond their legal capacity may be ultra vires. Most countries have restricted the doctrine of ultra vires in relation to companies by statute.
Similarly, statutory and governmental bodies may have limits upon the acts and activities which they legally engage in.
Subordinate legislation which is purported passed without the proper legal authority may be invalid as beyond the powers of the authority which issued it.United Kingdom administrative law
United Kingdom administrative law is a branch of UK public law concerned with the composition, procedures, powers, duties, rights and liabilities of public bodies that administer public policies. The general principle is that a public official, or an "administrator must act fairly, reasonably and according to the law. That is the essence and the rest is mainly machinery."United States administrative law
United States federal administrative law encompasses statutes, common law, and directives issued by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the Executive Office of the President, that together define the extent of powers and responsibilities held by administrative agencies of the United States Government (both executive branch agencies and independent agencies). The executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the U.S. federal government cannot always directly perform their constitutional responsibilities. Specialized powers are therefore delegated to an agency, board, or commission. These administrative governmental bodies oversee and monitor activities in complex areas, such as commercial aviation, medical device manufacturing, and securities markets.
Justice Breyer defines administrative law in four parts. Namely, the legal rules and principles that: (1) define the authority and structure of administrative agencies; (2) specify the procedural formalities employed by agencies; (3) determine the validity of agency decisions; and (4) define the role of reviewing courts and other governmental entities in relation to administrative agencies.U.S. federal agencies have the power to adjudicate, legislate, and enforce laws within their specific areas of delegated power.
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