Find a South African Lawyer in SA's leading Legal Directory | southafricanlawyer.co.za

Areas of Law and Guides

South African administrative law is the branch of public law in that country which regulates the legal relations of public authorities, whether with private individuals and organisations or with other public authorities, or better say, in present-day South Africa, which regulates "the activities of bodies that exercise public powers or perform public functions, irrespective of whether those bodies are public authorities in a strict sense."

Administrative Law


South African administrative law is the branch of public law in that country which regulates the legal relations of public authorities, whether with private individuals and organisations or with other public authorities, or better say, in present-day South Africa, which regulates "the activities of bodies that exercise public powers or perform public functions, irrespective of whether those bodies are public authorities in a strict sense." 

According to the Constitutional Court, administrative law is "an incident of the separation of powers under which the courts regulate and control the exercise of public power by the other branches of government."

Weichers defines administrative law as a body of legal rules governing the administration, organisation, powers and functions of administrative authorities. For Baxter, it is a set of common-law principles which promote the effective use of administrative power, protect against misuse, preserve a balance of fairness and maintain the public interest. Chaskalson describes it as the interface between the bureaucratic state and its subjects.

From this it may be seen that commentators agree that administrative law is concerned with attaining administrative efficiency, and with ensuring that this power is tightly controlled, so that no abuse may occur. In Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association of South Africa: In re Ex Parte President of the Republic of South Africa, it was held that administrative law forms the core of public law. It overlaps with constitutional law because both deal with organs of state and their relationship to individuals. Administrative law differs from constitutional law, however, in its emphasisis on a particular branch of government (the public administration) and on a particular activity of the state (administrative action). In President of the RSA v SARFU, the Constitutional Court held that the administration is that part of government which is primarily concerned with the implementation of legislation.

In summary, then, administrative law regulates the activities of bodies that exercise public powers or perform public functions. It empowers administrative officials so that they may implement policies or programs, and limits the exercise of power by requiring all administrative action meet the minimum requirements of lawfulness, reasonableness and fairness.

Administrative officials derive their authority or jurisdiction from a legal instrument or rule, and may only do what a law authorises them to so. This is known as the principle of legality, which requires that administrative authorities not only refrain from breaking the law, but that all their content comply with the Constitution and particularly the Bill of Rights. The sources of administrative law are, in order of importance,

  • the Constitution;
  • legislation; and
  • the common law.

 



Most recent Articles posted

Zuma must step aside from NEC

Former President Jacob Zuma – recently found by the Zondo Commission to have paved the way for state capture – should be barred from participating in ANC activities in line with the party’s contentious step-aside rule, according to ANC national executive committee (NEC) member and Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula.


Popia concern over publication of matric results

The Information Regulator says unless the Department of Basic Education gets parental consent, they will not be able to publish matric results, reports News24.


Court cancels ‘invalid’ tender

The Mpumulanga High Court (Mbombela) has ordered that a R2bn security tender awarded to 17 companies to guard all government buildings in the province be cancelled.


NPA slams ‘dangerous’ Gupta extradition reports

The NPA says reports about its apparent ‘poor handling’ of the extradition of the Gupta brothers from the UAE should be ‘dismissed as dangerous speculation,’ reports News24.


Another bid by ANC members to nullify results

Disgruntled ANC members in Sedibeng have gone to court to seek to nullify the results of an uncontested ANC regional conference and bar its executive from attending this weekend's provincial conference.


Ramaphosa rejects PP's suspension ultimatum

President Cyril Ramaphosa has rejected an ultimatum by Busisiwe Mkhwebane to reverse her suspension as Public Protector and signalled that he would oppose any attempt to overturn it in court, reports the Mail & Guardian.


Public Protector demands suspension reversal

Suspended Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has written to President Cyril Ramaphosa demanding the immediate reversal of her suspension, reports TimesLIVE.


Mkhwebane to challenge suspension and ruling

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has said she will challenge President Cyril Ramaphosa’s decision to suspend her. An EWN report notes Mkhwebane issued a statement questioning the wisdom and legality of Ramaphosa’s decision and claimed the President's verdict to remove her from office was in contempt of court.


SCA asked to overturn entire Goliath ruling

The Liesbeek Leisure Properties Trust (LLPT) has made good its promise to file an urgent application to appeal in the SCA against Western Cape Deputy Judge President Patricia Goliath’s entire ruling, which stopped the construction of the R4.6bn project in its tracks in March.


Amazon development threatened by interdict, SCA told

Developers have said if the interdict stopping construction of the Amazon Observatory office park is not lifted soon, the development will be canned, leaving residents without a public park, affordable housing, cycling trails and almost R4bn in road upgrades.


Treasury extends fuel levy reduction

Treasury has granted an extension of the reduction in the general fuel levy, which will soften today’s fuel price hike. The petrol levy was cut by R1.50 a litre for April and May as government sought to relieve the economic stress of surging fuel prices.


‘Fatally flawed’ cannabis Bill will slow growth

Parliament’s Justice & Correctional Services Committee heard last week that an amended Bill does not legalise commercial production of cannabis and can delay President Cyril Ramaphosa’s vision for this industry to create more than 130 000 new jobs.


Mayor orders probe of alleged irregular waste tender

An auditing firm has been appointed to investigate a multimillion-rand irregular and wasteful expenditure relating to a waste disposal tender in Giyani, Limpopo.


Mthethwa backtracks on R22m flag

Sport, Arts & Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa’s plan to spend R22m on a 100m-high ‘monumental’ flag is under review, according to several media reports. However, a parliamentary committee claims it has in fact been ditched.


Paarl name change proposal hits a nerve

Arts & Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa is insisting on a name-change for the Afrikaanse Taalmuseum en monument (Afrikaans Language Museum and Monument) in Paarl to promote inclusivity.


AfriForum claims R350m heading to Cuba

AfriForum has revealed that the planned R50m government donation to Cuba is nothing but pocket change compared to the full planned donation it hoped to make.


MPs critical of R22m flag

The R22m monumental flag project budget should be used on sport development and creating work for destitute artists, members of Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Sports, Arts & Culture told Minister Nathi Mthethwa yesterday.


Parliament approved R22m giant flag

Despite the outcry, the Department of Sports, Arts & Culture is going ahead with its R22m monumental flag project.


Russian oil tanker enroute to SA despite boycott calls

A tanker loaded with 2m barrels of Russian oil is steaming towards a storage facility in SA amid mounting international pressure to boycott Russian exports.


Court threat over ‘permanent State of Disaster’

Co-operative Governance & Traditional Affairs Minister, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, yesterday warned government could declare a State of Disaster again should Covid-19 infections spiral.





Mentioned in