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Administrative court

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An administrative court is a type of specialized court on administrative law, particularly disputes concerning the exercise of public power. Their role is to ascertain that official acts are consistent with the law. Such courts are considered separate from ordinary courts.

The administrative acts are recognized from the hallmark that they become binding without the consent of the other involved parties. The contracts between authorities and legal persons governed by private law fall usually to the jurisdiction of the general court system. Official decisions contested in administrative courts include:[1]

  • taxation
  • dispensation of monetary benefits
  • environmental licenses
  • building inspection
  • child custody
  • involuntary commitment
  • immigration decisions
  • summary public payments (other than fines imposed by general courts)
The Federal Administrative Court of Germany in Leipzig is the highest administrative court in Germany.

In several countries, in addition to general courts, there is a separate system of administrative courts, where the general and administrative systems do not have jurisdiction over each other. Accordingly, there is a local administrative court of first instance, possibly an appeals court and a Supreme Administrative Court separate from the general Supreme Court.

The parallel system is found in countries like Austria, Egypt, Greece, Germany, France, Italy, some of the Nordic Countries, Portugal, Taiwan and others. In France, Greece, Portugal and Sweden, the system has three levels like the general system, with local courts, appeal courts and a Supreme Administrative Court. In Finland, Italy, Poland and Taiwan, the system has two levels, where the court of first instance is a regional court. In Germany, the system is more complicated, and courts are more specialized.

The Conseil d'Etat in Paris is the Supreme Administrative court in France .

In Sweden and Finland, legality of decisions of both state agencies and municipal authorities can be appealed to the administrative courts. In accordance with the principle of the legal autonomy of municipalities, administrative courts can (if not stipulated otherwise) only review and rule on the formal legality of the decision, not its content. In the case of state agencies, administrative courts may rule on the actual content of the decision.

The United States does not have a separate system of administrative courts in the judicial branch.[2] Instead, administrative law judges (ALJs) preside over tribunals within executive branch agencies. In American jurisprudence, ALJs are always regarded as part of the executive branch, despite their quasi-judicial adjudicative role, because of the strict separation of powers imposed by the United States Constitution.[3][4] Decisions of ALJs can be appealed to courts in the judicial branch.

Notably, in 1952, the Communist East German government abolished the administrative courts as "bourgeois". This limited the citizens' ability to contest official decisions. In 1989, re-establishment of the system began in DDR, but the German reunification made this initiative obsolete.



  1. ^ Oikeusministeriö - Justitieministeriet Archived February 10, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Farnsworth, E. Allan (2010). Sheppard, Steve (ed.). An Introduction to the Legal System of the United States (4th ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 170. ISBN 9780199733101. Retrieved November 17, 2020.
  3. ^ Sunstein, Cass R.; Vermeule, Adrian (2020). Law and Leviathan: Redeeming the Administrative State. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. p. 83. ISBN 9780674249813. Retrieved May 5, 2024.
  4. ^ City of Arlington, Texas v. Federal Communications Commission, 569 U.S. 290, 304 n.4 (2013).
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Administrative court
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