Administrative Law is that body of rules which govern the relations between administrative authorities and private individuals. The system of law as pointed out above is prevalent in France and some other continental countries. This system is in sharp contrast to the system of Rule of Law of England.
Whereas in England both government officials and private citizens are amenable to the jurisdiction of ordinary courts administering ordinary law for all offences committed by them, in France, government officials arc tried by separate courts known as administrative courts dealing with administrative law for offences committed by them in official capacity.
Dicey is of the opinion that the English system provides for greater protection to the liberties of the citizens than the French system because in France public authorities arc themselves the judges of their own conduct. Such a system cannot ensure impartial judgment. But there are other philosophers who maintain that the French system protects individual liberty no less effectively than the British system.
The administrative courts of France maintain a high standard of impartiality in the dispensation of justice. An other merit of the system is that the wronged can secure proper relief from the government for damages done by its officials. It is further maintained that in England and other countries the concept of Rule of Law is undergoing degeneration because many issues of judicial and quasi-judicial nature are being decided not by ordinary courts but by administrative tribunals and sometimes even by ministers acting in a semi- judicial capacity.
As for example in England, the Roads Act, 1920 authorizes Minister of Transport to decide appeals about the refusal of 1 incenses to run omnibuses. The Board of Education decides appeals about the opening of new schools. An appeal against an order of Country council lies to the Minister of Health.
This is a kind of Administrative Law. Under it, the administrative agencies exercise the jurisdiction of a judicial nature over the rights and properties of citizens. As a consequence the distinction between Rule of Law and Administrative Law so sharply drawn by Dicey is fading away.
Points to Remember
Rule of Law implies that no person should be arrested, detained or imprisoned without a proper and fair trial in a court of law. It further means that all persons whether government officials or private citizens are amenable to the jurisdiction of ordinary courts administering ordinary law.
Administrative Law, on the other hand, means that government officials should be tried by Administrative Law. But now the distinction between the two is fading away.