Administrative law

Administrative law regulates the contacts of citizens with the state.

A characteristic element of these relations is the disproportion of strength between the citizen and the state. In such a confrontation, the citizen is in a losing position. One of the functions of administrative law is to create conditions in which the citizen and state may conduct a dispute on equal terms.

We encounter administrative law in every situation in which the decision of public administration is required. When we pay any kind of tax or local administrative fee we enter the realm of administrative law. Issues related to construction law, such as the issuance of building permits or the demarcation of access roads, are all a part of administrative law. Everyday affairs which we conduct in county and city offices are administrative affairs in which the citizen is a party. The parties to administrative proceedings are awarded an entire range of rights. As administrative proceedings conducted by public administration to a certain degree resemble court proceedings, the skillful use of these rights may have a decisive impact on the result of the proceedings. In particular, it is important to remember that generally public administration is obliged to act in the interest of citizens. This primarily means that the administration must take the interests of citizens into account. Public administration should strive to resolve issues in a way which convinces the citizen that the administration has their case properly. It is unacceptable for public authorities to issue a decision which is unfavorable for the citizen without adequate justification. Administrative law requires the authority issuing the decision to take into account relevant legislation as well as the public interest and private interest of the citizen whose case is under consideration.

This takes on particular significance in dealings with the inland revenue. Decisions made regarding tax obligations rarely meet with the approval or understanding of the citizen. Nonetheless, it is desirable for the organ to convince the citizen of the fairness of its decision, and to persuade the citizen to voluntarily execute the decision without the need to make use of administrative execution. Tax law is the largest and most important subset of administrative law.

One tangible effect of contact with the world of administrative law, as compared to other branches of the law, is that cases are tried in administrative courts and not in common courts. Administrative courts operate in a slightly different way than common courts; specifically, they may not change administrative decisions and decide cases based on merit. They only check whether public administration have acted in a given case in accordance with the law. Although this sometimes means that individuals whose cases have been heard in an administrative court feel unsatisfied after a decision is made, these courts play an unusually important role. They are safeguards of the principles of administrative procedure and take care to ensure that public administration acts in accordance with the law.

Administrative law on the one hand must ensure order and stability in the functioning of the state, and on the other hand must ensure that the authorities of the state do not exploit their dominant position against the interests of citizens.