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What Is Administrative Law?

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You’re probably already familiar with how the US judicial court system works. What you may not be aware of are the number of binding legal decisions and laws that come from both federal and state administrative agencies.

Federal agencies are created by an act of Congress or by the President himself. The ones created by Congress are referred to as independent agencies, while those created by the President are called executive agencies.

Both agency types have the power and authority to supervise, direct, and enforce the implementation of certain legislative statutes or acts. State-level administrative agencies mirror the structure and function of their key federal-level counterparts.

Now, here’s where it all ties together. In 1946, Congress enacted the Administrative Procedure Act to govern the process through which administrative agencies (federal and state) create, enact, and enforce laws. These pieces of legislation fall under administrative law.

So, what is administrative law anyway, and how is it created? Here’s everything you need to know.

What Is Administrative Law – Definition

Administrative law, or regulatory law as it is sometimes called, is simply the collective body of laws created and enacted by the government departments and agencies charged with enforcing the legislation passed by Congress or the respective state legislatures across the country.

One of the most common administrative law examples involves how individuals interact with administrative agencies when applying for government benefits.

Congress, for instance, has passed laws that allow the disabled members of the society to apply for and receive government assistance. The administrative agency that was created to enforce the disability and social security laws enacted by Congress is the Social Security Administration (SSA).

This particular government agency receives applications for benefits from individuals with a disability, reviews said applications to determine who’s eligible for government assistance and who’s not, and passes laws to ensure that only the deserving individuals receive the benefits based on the severity of their disability.

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Kinds of Administrative Law

Two main types of administrative laws exist. There’s – Rules and Regulations. Then there’s – Administrative Decisions.

Both types are made by government agencies that fall under their respective executive departments or commissions that draw their power and authority from Congress, or a state legislature. These usually fall under the executive arm of the government.

1. Rules and Regulations

The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) details the rules as formulated by federal agencies. These are first published in the Federal Register and then arranged into “Titles.” The CFR titles are updated once a year to reflect any amendments made to the regulations since they were last published.

2. Administrative Decisions – Civil Law vs. Common Law Countries

Most of the countries that fall under civil law jurisdictions generally have specialized courts that exist to deal with administrative cases. The procedural rules that govern such proceedings are usually different from those you would find in private-law cases like tort or contract claims.

In France, for instance, claims filed against the local or national governments, as well as those lodged against private entities providing public services, are all heard by administrative courts or “tribunaux administratifs” as they call them.

Aside from France, other civil law countries that have administrative courts in place include Brazil, Chile, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, Sweden, Turkey, and Ukraine. It’s important to mention that decisions made by the administrative courts in civil law countries can be appealed in a higher court.

On the other hand, we have countries that abide by the principles of common law that generally restrict the judicial reviewability of the decisions made by administrative bodies. Although administrative decision-making bodies often fall under the control of larger governmental departments, the decisions they make could be reviewed under some judicial review principle in a court that bears general jurisdiction, but only upon due process.

Keep in mind that a judicial review of an administrative decision isn’t the same as an administrative appeal. Judicial appeals check to see if due process was followed; in other words, they examine the method used to arrive at a decision. Administrative appeals look at the correctness of the decision itself.

The United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and Singapore are examples of common law countries.

Administrative Procedure Act

In the US, Congress enacted Article 1 tribunals, which are essentially special judicial entities that handle certain areas of administrative law. The US administrative law focuses on the actions of both the executive as well as independent agencies.

Many of them operate as smaller, more compact versions of the tripartite national government. They have the power to legislate, execute, and adjudicate administrative objectives.

The 1946 Administrative Procedure Act established fair and consistent administrative law procedures to ensure they comply with the requirements of due process, as mandated by the US Constitution.

Agricultural Law

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The agricultural sector is, no doubt, the most heavily regulated sector of the US economy. It is regulated in various ways at local, state, federal, and international levels. For this reason, administrative law plays a major role in agricultural law.

The US Department of Agriculture has a host of agencies that it uses as the primary source of its regulatory activities. It also draws from other administrative entities such as the Environmental Protection Agency.

The regulation of the agricultural sector extends from production and processing, right up to distribution and marketing, each with agencies whose authority has been delegated either by state legislatures or Congress itself. The Agricultural Marketing Service is one such agency that falls squarely in the department.

Lawyer-Up to Preserve Your Legal Rights

While the rules and regulations passed by administrative bodies may not be the same as those enacted by Congress or state legislatures, they may carry similar consequences if you flout them.

This is why administrative agencies have the power to fine individuals and corporate entities that don’t comply with the agency’s administrative regulations. Other agencies like the SSA have the power to make decisions that may severely affect your benefits and associated rights.

If you feel that an administrative decision has grossly infringed upon your rights, you might have to appeal the decision. This is often a very complex and lengthy process that you cannot go through alone, without the help of an experienced administrative lawyer. So, if you’re looking to get the best outcome, lawyering up would be your best bet.

If you have any legal questions concerning administrative law, feel free to chat online with a Laws101.com attorney.