Meaning of Droit administratif French administrative law is known as Droit Administratif which means a body of rules which determine the organization, powers and duties of public administration and regulate the relation of the administration with the citizen of the country. Droit Administrative does not represent the rules and principles enacted by Parliament. It contains the rules developed by administrative courts.
Napoleon Bonaparte was the founder of the Droit administrative. It was he who established the Conseil d’Etat. He passed an ordinance depriving the law courts of their jurisdiction on administrative matters and another ordinance that such matters could be determined only by the Conseil d’Etat.
Waline, the French jurist, propounds three basic principles of Droit administrative:
- the power of administration to act suo motu and impose directly on the subject the duty to obey its decision;
- the power of the administration to take decisions and to execute them suo motu may be exercised only within the ambit of law which protects individual liberties against administrative arbitrariness;
- the existence of a specialized administrative jurisdiction.
One good result of this is that an independent body reviews every administrative action The Conseil d’Etat is composed of eminent civil servants, deals with a variety of matters like claim of damages for wrongful acts of Government servants, income-tax, pensions, disputed elections, personal claims of civil servants against the State for wrongful dismissal or suspension and so on. It has interfered with administrative orders on the ground of error of law, lack of jurisdiction, irregularity of procedure and detournement depouvior (misapplication of power). It has exercised its jurisdiction liberally.
Main characteristic features of droit administratif. The following characteristic features are of the Droit Administratif in France:-
- Those matters concerning the State and administrative litigation falls within the jurisdiction of administrative courts and cannot be decided by the land of the ordinary courts.
- Those deciding matters concerning the State and administrative litigation, rules as developed by the administrative courts are applied.
- If there is any conflict of jurisdiction between ordinary courts and administrative court, it is decided by the tribunal des conflicts.
- Conseil d’Etat is the highest administrative court.
Prof. Brown and Prof. J.P. Garner have attributed to a combination of following factors as responsible for its success
- The composition and functions of the Conseil d’Etat itself;
- The flexibility of its case-law;
- The simplicity of the remedies available before the administrative courts;
- The special procedure evolved by those courts; and
- The character of the substantive law, which they apply.
Despite the obvious merits of the French administrative law system, Prof.
Dicey was of the opinion that there was no rule of law in France nor was the system so satisfactory as it was in England. He believed that the review of administrative action is better administered in England than in France.
The system of Droit Administratif according to Dicey, is based on the following two ordinary principles which are alien to English law—
Firstly, that the government and every servant of the government possess, as representative of the nation, a whole body of special rights, privileges or prerogatives as against private citizens, and the extent of rights, privileges or considerations which fix the legal rights and duties of one citizen towards another. An individual in his dealings with the State does not, according to French law; stand on the same footing as that on which he stands in dealing with his neighbor.
Secondly, that the government and its officials should be independent of and free from the jurisdiction of ordinary courts.
It was on the basis of these two principles that Dicey observed that Droit Administratif is opposed to rule of law and, therefore, administrative law is alien to English system. But this conclusion of Dicey was misconceived. Droit
Administratif, that is, administrative law was as much there in England as it was in France but with a difference that the French Droit Administratif was based on a system, which was unknown to English law. In his later days after examining the things closely, Dicey seems to have perceptibly modified his stand.
Despite its overall superiority, the French administrative law cannot be characterized with perfection. Its glories have been marked by the persistent slowness in the judicial reviews at the administrative courts and by the difficulties of ensuring the execution of its last judgment. Moreover, judicial control is the only one method of controlling administrative action in French administrative law, whereas, in England, a vigilant public opinion, a watchful Parliament, a self -disciplined civil service and the jurisdiction of administrative process serve as the additional modes of control over administrative action. By contrast, it has to be conceded that the French system still excels its counterpart in the common law countries of the world.