Meaning.- Droit administratif is a branch of law which determines the organisation, powers, and duties of public administration. According to Dicey droit administratif is that portion of French Law which determines
- The position and liabilities of state officials;
- The civil rights and liabilities of private individuals in their dealings with officials as representatives of the state; and
- The procedure by which these rights and liabilities are enforced.
Dual judicature in France Civil and Administrative Courts. – Under the French Legal System, known as droit administratiff, there are two types of laws and two sets of Courts independent from each other. The ordinary courts administer the ordinary civil law as between subjects and subjects. The administrative courts administer the law as between subject and the state. An administrative authority or official is not subject to the jurisdiction of ordinary civil courts exercising powers under the civil law in disputes arising between the private individuals. All claims and disputes in which administrative authorities or officials are parties do not come within the scope of the jurisdiction of ordinary courts and they are to be dealt with and decided by administrative tribunals headed by Conseil d’
Nepolean in 18th century wants freedom for the administration and favoured reforms. He wanted an institution to give relief to the people against the excesses of administration. It was therefore, that in 1799 Counseil d’ Etat was established.
The main aim of such institution was to resolve the difficulties, which might arise in the cause of the administration. But with change in time, it started exercising judicial powers in matters involving administration. The position is that in all matters involving Administration the jurisdiction of Counseil d’ etat is final. It receives direct complaints from the citizen.
The Composition and Working of Conceil d’Etat. -Conceil d’Etat consists of a body of men who are on the one side the confidential advisors of the government and on the other decide the cases of the subjects against the administration. In the latter case, they act as uncommitted judges and if necessary, condemn the executive act. This paradox has made the Conseil d’Etat, an efficacious institution in France.
If there is conflict between the ordinary courts and the administrative Courts regarding jurisdiction the matter is decided by the Tribunal des conflicts.
This is a special tribunal which consist of an equal number of ordinary and administrative judges. It is presided over by the minister of justice.
Tribunal des Conflicts
- It decides whether a matter should go before the ordinary courts or tribunals. It has judges and civil servants in equal numbers with the Minister of Justice as the president. When the members of the tribunal are equally then he enters.
Case Law :
In Padfield v. Minister of Agriculture, 1968 AC 997 the Minister in charge did not permit certain candidates to appear at the civil service examination. It was reported in newspaper that the Government had refused permission to candidates who were Communists. The Minister, however, denied it. The candidates approached Conseil d’Etat, which quashed the order as no reasons were recorded by the minister for refusing such permission. The Counseil ruled that there were no reasons which would justify such a refusal.
Rules of Droit Administratif-
In France, droit administratiff consists of rules developed by the judges of administrative courts. There are three series of rules included in droit administratif :
- Rules relating to administrative authorities and official’ appointment, dismissal,
- Rules relating to the operation of public services to meet the needs of citizens.
- Rules relating to administrative adjudication if any injury is caused to a private citizen by the administration, the matter has to be decided by the administrative courts.
Conseil d’Etat is the highest administrative Court, whose decision is final.
Features of Droit Administratiff
1. Matters concerning state and administrative litigation fall within the jurisdiction of administrative Courts and cannot be decided by the ordinary courts of the land.
2. In deciding matters concerning the state and administrative litigation, rules as developed by the administrative courts are applied.
3. If there is conflict of jurisdiction between ordinary courts and administrative court, it is decided by the Tribunal des conflits.
4. Conseil d’ Etat is the supreme administrative court.
If the droit administratiff did not adequately protect the individuals as against the state, it would be a serious criticism, but it was not so. The fact is that this system was able to provide expeditious and in-expensive relief and better protection to the citizens against administrative acts or omissions than the common law system. The early common criticism of Droit Administratiff was that it cannot protect the private citizen from the excesses of the administration. However, later researches have shown that no single institution had done so much for the protection of private citizens against the excesses of administration as has been done by the Conseil d’Etat.