Origin and development of administrative law

In the Philippines, law is divided into eight fields: political law, labor law, criminal law, civil law, commercial law, remedial law, tax law and ethics law. Political law is divided into political law proper (study of the structure of government), constitutional law, administrative law, law on accountability of public officers, election law and public international law. Other authors include criminal law and procedure in this list of divisions of political laws.


Administrative law is recognized as a separate (and modern) field of law. De Leon and De Leon, Jr. (2010) points out that this field of law is of comparatively recent origin. In fact, under the Anglo-American system, administrative law is not one of the traditionally recognized parts of the law, such, for example, as the criminal law, the common law, and equity.

In recent decades and with the rapid expansion of administrative agencies and their increased functions, a substantial body of jurisprudence has developed in the field and general recognition has been given to "administrative law" as a distinct category of law. Dean Ruscoe Pound, for example, defined it as that branch of MODERN LAW under which the executive department of the government acting in a quasi-legislative or quasi-judicial capacity, interferes with the conduct of the individual for the purpose of promoting the well-being of the community, as under laws regulating public corporations, business affected with public interest, professions, trades and callings, rates and prices, laws for the protection of the public health and safety and the promotion of the public convenience and advantage.

It is deemed "modern" because certain functions of administrative bodies such as quasi-judicial and quasi-legislative roles are traditionally within the sole and exclusive powers of the courts and the law-making body, respectively. However, due to the increasing complexities of human life and interactions and the convenience that administrative law offers, not to mention the expertise of administrative officers in certain areas of law in resolving certain kinds of disputes, tribunals and hearing offices have been created within the Executive Branch with support even from those who push for separation of powers.

Wikipedia gives the following definition of administrative law: "Administrative law is the body of law that governs the activities of administrative agencies of government. Government agency action can include rule making, adjudication, or the enforcement of a specific regulatory agenda. Administrative law is considered a branch of public law. As a body of law, administrative law deals with the decision-making of the administrative units of government (for example, tribunals, boards or commissions) that are part of a national regulatory scheme in such areas as police law, international trade, manufacturing, the environment, taxation, broadcasting, immigration and transport. Administrative law expanded greatly during the twentieth century, as legislative bodies worldwide created more government agencies to regulate the social, economic and political spheres of human interaction."


In the beginning, the government did not have many function as it has now. There were very few activities to regulate and control. This is very much unlike today when tens of billions of transactions happen every day.

Time marched forward and the economy grew as modern life became more and more complex. More and more matters have become the concern of the government. Certain fields have become so narrow that the Supreme Court and Congress can no longer catch up and are no longer capable of crafting rules or resolutions to address each problem in every specific field.

This expansion of government regulation and the multiplication of government functions have prompted our laws to create more and more administrative bodies, commissions or specialized courts in the fields assigned to them. For example, the legislature and courts may not be equipped with the proper and right amount of knowledge, understanding and skill in the field of medicine to make a primary determination of rules on how to determine whether a medical practitioner has been negligent. Having this reason in mind, in many jurisdictions, there are medical boards or tribunals which have primary jurisdiction over violations committed by medical experts.

(3) Growth and utilization of administrative agencies. — Administrative law developed as the natural accompaniment of the growth of administrative agencies and their utilization in response to the needs of a changing society. (a) It has developed from a combination of forces, some pressing on the legal system from without, and some others from within, and it is, in effect, a major response of the law to the complexities of a modern age. To a large extent, administrative law has developed in response to the need for broad social or governmental control over complex conditions and activities which in their detail cannot be dealt with directly in an effective manner by the legislature or the judiciary. It has as its dominant purpose the promotion and conservation of the interests and convenience of the public. (b) The theory which underlies a good part of administrative law is that the issues with which it deals ought to be decided by experts, and not by a judge, at least not in the first instance, or until the facts have been sifted and arranged. 32 One thrust of the multiplication of administrative agencies is that the interpretation of certain contracts and agreements and the determination of private rights under them is no longer a uniquely judicial function exercisable only by our regular courts. 33


The general rule is that there exists a separation of powers among the great branches of government and other constitutional bodies such as the Ombudsman and the Commission on Elections. Administrative law is an exception to this rule as it allows agencies under the Executive Branch to wield quasi-legislative and quasi-judicial powers.

Administrative law, then, has resulted from the increased functions of government, the recent tremendous growth in administrative agencies, and the fact that the agencies created in this period of growth were much more than conventional administrative officials such as had existed under earlier legislation. (a) With their extensive investigation, rule-making, and adjudicating powers, these administrative agencies represent a provocative fusion of different powers of government.

Administrative agencies are vested with the power to promulgate rules and regulations to better carry out some legislative policies, and to decide on controversies within the scope of their activities. The laws which created administrative agencies, the rules and regulations promulgated by them, and the body of decisions that they have from time to time rendered in the adjudication of cases brought before them, now constitute the bulk of administrative law. These rules and regulations have the force and effect of law and are binding upon courts except when they have been issued ultra vires (i.e. beyond the authority given by the Constitution or by statute).

An example of power that cannot be given to administrative agencies is the power to issue warrants of arrest. It would be a violation of the principle of separation of powers to do so. In Salazar v. Achacoso (G.R. No. 81510), it was held that the constitutional proscription has thereby been manifested that thenceforth, the function of determining probable cause and issuing, on the basis thereof, warrants of arrest or search warrants, may be validly exercised only by judges, this being evidenced by the elimination in the present Constitution of the phrase, "such other responsible officer as may be authorized by law" found in the counterpart provision of said 1973 Constitution, who, aside from judges, might conduct preliminary investigations and issue warrants of arrest or search warrants

According to De Leon and De Leon, Jr. (2010), administrative law is still in its formative stages and is being developed as part of our traditional system of law. The administrative process and its agencies are newcomers in the field of law but administrative agencies are now established as very important tribunals in the administration of justice, making decisions sometimes of vast importance and equal to matters determined by the courts. A substantial part of the principles of administrative law in the Philippines is derived from American and English jurisprudence on this branch of law. It has persuasive, though not controlling, force in our jurisdiction.

The discussion above is based on an outline by De Leon and De Leon, Jr. (2010) in their book on administrative law. Their books are available in fine bookstores nationwide. SOURCE: De Leon and De Leon, Jr. (2010). Administrative Law: Text and Cases. 6th edition. ISBN 978-971-23-5670-4. Rex Books Store. https://www.rexestore.com/law-library-essentials/984-administrative-law-text-and-casesrevised-edition.html.

Definition of Administrative law. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Administrative_law