What is an Administrative Court?

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

An administrative court is a court through which administrative law decisions are made. The manner in which administrative law courts are set up and handled may vary from country to country. Often, however, an administrative court reviews cases regarding the actions and decisions of those in public authority. For example, this type of court may make decisions regarding welfare benefit cases, taxes, immigration laws, and building permits. In fact, administrative courts often make decisions after a person has been denied a benefit by a public authority or administrative agency and wishes to have that decision overturned.

Administrative courts review cases that involve public administration and authority.
Administrative courts review cases that involve public administration and authority.

Many countries have administrative law courts that are responsible for handling cases involving agencies responsible for making and enforcing rules and regulations that affect the public. For example, such an agency may make and enforce rules related to public safety, commerce, food and drug consumption, and even energy use in some places. Some may handle cases involving insurance and prisoner rights as well. These agencies may also develop new procedures and implement processes based on government legislation.

Administrative law courts may handle cases involving agencies responsible for enforcing prisoner rights.
Administrative law courts may handle cases involving agencies responsible for enforcing prisoner rights.

An administrative court generally handles a wide variety of cases. For example, if a public authority has denied an individual a benefit to which he believes he is entitled, he may contest the denial thorough an administrative court in his jurisdiction. The same goes for a person who believes he has been unfairly taxed or denied a right. For instance, if a party is denied the right to operate a business because of a failed building inspection, he may seek to have this decision reviewed by an administrative law court. Sometimes these courts even handle cases involving immigration law and environmental licensing.

Administrative courts may not have the final say in the disputes they review, however. If a person is denied benefits based on the criteria set by an administrative or regulatory agency, for example, he may request to have his case reviewed by an administrative court. If the denied party is unhappy with the decision of the administrative court, however, he may appeal the administrative court's decision in judicial court.

In some countries, administrative courts are entirely separate from other court systems within the same country. In such a case, an administrative court may not have jurisdiction over the other court systems and vice versa. In other places, however, administrative courts function as tribunals and their decisions can be appealed in a different type of court.

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a wiseGEEK writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

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Discussion Comments


@Logicfest -- at least administrative courts have one thing in common. They absolutely cannot violate the due process that anyone approaching any court is entitled to and deserves. That is a unifying thread in all courts and does force all of them to make sure certain protections are in place. Hey, due process is due process and it doesn't look terribly different from one court to the next.


Administrative courts are downright odd and vary wildly from administration to administration. While there are procedural rules that govern "regular" courts in a more or less uniform manner, administrative courts vary from formal to informal to something in between or something else completely.

An attorney who wants to engage in practicing law in those things had better get ready to either go nuts trying to figure out the ins and outs of each one in his or her area or just specialize in certain areas. Social Security Disability lawyers stand as good examples of how an attorney can choose to deal with just one administrative court and do just fine.

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