What Is Administrative Law? - Definition & Examples

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  • 0:01 Definition of…
  • 0:39 Types of…
  • 2:18 Examples of Administrative Law
  • 3:08 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jessica Schubert

Jessica is a practicing attorney and has taught law and has a J.D. and LL.M.

In this lesson, you will learn about administrative law. After completing the lesson, you will understand what constitutes administrative law, how administrative law works, and some examples of administrative law proceedings.

Definition of Administrative Law?

While you might at first think of all judicial processes as formal courtroom affairs, the field of administrative law is an area where the judicial process is relaxed and the review process is informal. Moreover, when it comes to administrative law proceedings, the process is usually user-friendly with few formalities.

Administrative law is a body of law which governs federal and state administrative agencies, as well as the procedures these agencies must follow when making determinations, rulings, and rules. Usually, an administrative agency's purpose is to protect the public at large and ensure the public's safety.

Types of Administrative Agencies

There are several different kinds of administrative agencies which are created by Congress or the state where the agency resides. The agencies are designed in order to function as an agent of the executive branch of the U.S. government. In addition, the agencies can serve many different roles. For example, the Environmental Protection Agency (or EPA) oversees the safety and protection of the environment, from wetlands protections to polluted groundwater and everything in between.

The Federal Drug Administration (or FDA) and the Department of Homeland Security, meanwhile, are concerned with the safety of U.S. citizens. For instance, the FDA oversees the safety of the public health by regulating the production of drugs, vaccines, veterinary medicines, medical devices, and more. The Department of Homeland Security, on the other hand, is responsible for protecting the public against threats of violence to the United States. Additionally, on a state or local level, administrative agencies can consist of local zoning boards or land planning boards. These boards can serve in many different capacities, from reviewing planned land uses to examining whether a house has sufficient sewer storage.

Administrative agencies are also subject to regulation themselves. The Federal Administrative Procedures Act (for federal agencies) and similar state laws (for state agencies) sets rules on how the agencies must conduct themselves. The Federal Administrative Procedure Act includes many different areas for agency guidance. These sections relate to the functioning of the agencies. In addition, the sections include regulations which foster transparency with respect to the agency's work, as well as guidelines on how an agency must act.

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