Administrative Law can be defined as the law relating to public administration. It is the law relating to the performance, management and execution of public affairs and duties. Administrative law is concerned with the way in which the Government carries out its functions.
Administration is the act or process of administering, which simply means it is the act of meting out, dispensing, managing, supervising and executing government functions
It is the law relating to control of governmental power. It can also be said to be the body of general principles, which govern the exercise of powers and duties by public authorities.
The primary purpose of administrative law, therefore, is to keep the powers of government within their legal bounds, so as to protect the citizen against their abuse.
Administrative law is also concerned with the administration and dispensation of delivery of public services. However it does not include policy making.
Administrative law is concerned with how the government carries out its tasks.
The government tasks include delivery of public services such as health, security, facilitating trade, arbitration of disputes, and collection of revenue.
Administrative law is the law relating to the executive branch of government. The law deals with a variety of things e.g.
i. The establishment of public authorities e.g. the city council, establishment of public bodies and organs.
ii. The nature of the tasks given to various public organs and public agencies.
iii. The legal relationship between the public bodies themselves and also between the public agencies and the public and between public agencies and the citizens.
Administrative Law is concerned with the means by which the powers and duties of the various public agencies, public bodies and public institutes can be controlled.
Administrative functions can be divided into a number of broad categories namely
1. Ministerial functions; Examples of Ministerial Functions are those functions carried out or performed by Government Ministers in their implementation of governmental policies and programs. Examples include appointment of public officials by Ministers and the grant of ministerial approvals and consents.
Administrative functions: these are the functions carried out by public officials and public bodies in their management of various governmental bodies in their provision of services for example educational services and in their administration of various social services as in the case of social security services. Please note that management of public schools and universities provide yet another example of administrative functions of governmental bodies.
3. Legislative functions: These include the function of making or creating subsidiary legislation. The responsibility of legislative functions is on the respective Ministers‟. The duty of making by-laws is also the respective minister‟s.
4. Judicial functions: These primarily involve the functions of determining claims or disputes between individuals and other bodies. A good example of administrative body that performs judicial functions is the Industrial Court which functions as a court of law.
5. Quasi Judicial functions:These involve the exercise of powers which are fundamentally judicial but without the usual trappings of a court of law for example without strict requirement of rules of evidence or the observance of rules of evidence, without strict requirements of examination of witnesses and without other legal technicalities. A good example being the Liquor Licensing Court, the Land Control Boards and the Motor Vehicle Licensing Authorities.
FUNCTIONS/PURPOSES OF ADMINISTRATIVE LAW
1. It ensures proper dispensation of services.
2. It seeks to protect citizens from abuse of power.
3. To keep the powers of government i.e powers of various public bodies within their legal bounds, so as to protect citizens from their abuse. Abuse of power can arise either from malice, bad faith or even from the complexities of the law.
4. There are duties placed in public bodies (public institutions) such that another function of the law is to see that the duties are performed and that the public agencies can be compelled to perform their duties where there is laxity or where they refuse or otherwise fail to do so.
Judicial Review is the process through which an aggrieved person can find redress in a Court of
Law. Judicial Review forms part of administrative law because it is the most appropriate way that a party aggrieved by an administrative body can find redress.
Judicial Review refers to the examination of the actions or in actions of public bodies by the High Court.
Judicial Review is an examination of the manner in which a decision was made or an act done or not done. This definition is found in Chief Constable of North Water Police V. Evans
The purposes of Judicial Review from that definition are as follows:
1. To prevent excessive exercise of powers by administrative bodies and officials;
2. To ensure that an individual is given fair treatment by Administrative authorities;
3. To keep Administrative excesses in check and also to provide a remedy to those aggrieved as a result of excessive exercise of power by administrative bodies.
The primary legal basis of Judicial Review is the Law Reform Act.1 From the wording of Section 8 of the Law Reform Act, one can only apply for Judicial Review in the High Court and not the Magistrates Courts.
GROUNDS OF JUDICIAL REVIEW
By looking at the grounds of judicial review, we will be studying the circumstances in which an aggrieved person may petition the High Court for Judicial Review.
Courts of Law will intervene in public administration in one or more of the following circumstances i.e. courts of law will review actions of administrative bodies in one or more of the following circumstances:
1. When a body acts ultra vires;
3. When there is jurisdictional error;
4. When there is an error of law;
5. When there is an error of fact;
6. When there is an abuse of power;
7. When irrelevant considerations governed the making of a decision;
8. When there is bias;
9. When there is unfair hearing;
10. When there is procedural flaw;
11. When there is irrationality
12. When a public official or body acts in bad faith;
13. When there is breach of the principles of natural justice.
There are some overlaps in these grounds e.g. what amounts to procedural flaw may at the same time amount to ultra vires. In actual practice any one of the grounds will entitle an aggrieved party to apply for judicial review and in actual practice circumstances occasioning judicial review will involve one or more of those grounds.
One does not have to have all the 13 circumstances to apply for judicial review. Any one of the grounds will suffice and the list is not exhaustive.