Administrative Law

Powers of Administrative Agencies

  1. Quasi-legislative power / Power of subordinate legislation
  2. Quasi-judicial power/Power of adjudication
  3. Determinative powers (Note: Senator Neptali Gonzales calls them incidental powers)

Definition of “Quasi-legislative power”

It is the authority delegated by the law-making body to the administrative body to adopt rules and regulations intended to carry out the provisions of a law and implement legislative policy.

Distinctions between Quasi-legislative power and legislative power

  1. LEGISLATIVE power involves the discretion to determine what the law shall be.  QUASI-legislative power only involves the discretion to determine how the law shall be enforced.
  2. LEGISLATIVE power CANNOT be delegated.  QUASI-legislative power CAN be delegated.

Tests of Delegation (applies to the power to promulgate administrative regulations )

  1. COMPLETENESS test. This means that the law must be complete in all its terms and conditions when it leaves the legislature so that when it reaches the delegate, it will have nothing to do but to enforce it.
  2. SUFFICIENT STANDARD test.  The law must offer a sufficient standard to specify the limits of the delegate’s authority, announce the legislative policy and specify the conditions under which it is to be implemented.

Definition of Quasi-Judicial Power

It is the power of administrative authorities to make determinations of facts in the performance of their official duties and to apply the law as they construe it to the facts so found. The exercise of this power is only incidental to the main function of administrative authorities, which is the enforcement of the law.

Determinative Powers

1. ENABLING powers 

Those that PERMIT the doing of an act which the law undertakes to regulate and would be unlawful without government approval.

Ex.  Issuance of licenses to engage in a particular business.

2.DIRECTING powers

Those that involve the corrective powers of public utility commissions, powers of assessment under the revenue laws, reparations under public utility laws, and awards under workmen’s compensation laws, and powers of abstract determination such as definition-valuation, classification and fact finding

3. DISPENSING powers

Exemplified by the authority to exempt from or relax a general prohibition, or authority to relieve from an affirmative duty. Its difference from licensing power is that dispensing power sanctions a deviation from a standard.

4. SUMMARY powers

Those that apply compulsion or force against person or property to effectuate a legal purpose without a judicial warrant to authorize such action. Usually without notice and hearing.

Ex. Abatement of nuisance, summary destraint, levy of property of delinquent tax payers

5. EQUITABLE powers

Those that pertain to the power to determine the law upon a particular state of facts. It refers to the right to, and must, consider and make proper application of the rules of equity.

Ex. Power to appoint a receiver, power to issue injunctions

Kinds of Administrative Regulations




1. Capacity that administrative agency is acting in Legislative Judicial
2. What administrative agency is doing It supplements the statute by filling in the details It says what the statute means
3. Force and effect Legislative regulations have the force and effecr of law immediately upon going into effect. Such is accorded by the courts or by express provision of statute. Merely persuasive/Received by the courts with much respect but not accorded with finality

Requisites of a Valid Administrative Regulation

  1. Its promulgation must be authorized by the legislature.
  2. It must be within the scope of the authority given by the legislature.
  3. It must be promulgated in accordance with the prescribed procedure.
  4. It must be reasonable

Need for Previous Notice and Hearing

  1. General Rule: Administrative rules of GENERAL application do NOT require previous notice and hearing.
  2. Exception: When the legislature itself requires it and mandates that the regulation shall be based on certain facts as determined at an appropriate investigation.
  3. If the regulation is in effect a settlement of a controversy between specific parties, it is considered an administrative adjudication, requiring notice and hearing.

Prescribing of Rates

It can be either:


If the rules/rates are meant to apply to all enterprises of a given kind throughout the country.

No prior notice and hearing is required.


If the rules and rates imposed apply exclusively to a particular party, based upon a finding of fact. Prior notice and hearing is required.

Requirement of Publication

Administrative Regulations that MUST be published:

  1. Administrative regulations of GENERAL application.
  2. Administrative regulations which are PENAL in nature.

Administrative regulations that do NOT NEED to be PUBLISHED:

  1. Interpretative regulations
  2. Internal rules and regulations governing the personnel of the administrative agency.
  1. Letters of instruction issued by administrative superiors concerning guidelines to be followed by their subordinates.  (Tanada v. Tuvera)

Special Requisites of a Valid Administrative Regulation with a PENAL sanction

  1. The law itself must make violation of the administrative regulation punishable.
  2. The law itself must impose and specify the penalty for the violation of the regulation.
  3. The regulation must be published.

Requisites for Proper Exercise of Quasi-Judicial Power

  1. Jurisdiction
  2. Due process

Administrative Due Process : Requirements

  1. Right to Notice, be it actual or constructive
  2. Reasonable opportunity to appear and defend his rights and to introduce witnesses
  3. Impartial tribunal with competent jurisdiction
  4. Finding or decision supported by substantial evidence

Exceptions to the Notice and Hearing Requirement

  1. Urgency of immediate action
  2. Tentativeness of the administrative action
  3. Right was previously offered but not claimed
  4. Summary abatement of a nuisance per se
  5. Preventive suspension of a public servant facing administrative charges
  6. Padlocking of filthy restaurants/theaters showing obscene movies
  7. Cancellation of a passport of a person sought for criminal prosecution
  8. Summary distraint and levy of properties of a delinquent taxpayer
  9. Replacement of a temporary or acting appointee

Questions Reviewable on Judicial Review:

1. Questions of FACT

The general rule is that courts will not disturb the findings of administrative agencies acting within the parameters of their own competence so long as such findings are supported by substantial evidence. By reason of their special knowledge, expertise, and experience, the courts ordinarily accord respect if not finality to factual findings of administrative tribunals.

2. Question of  LAW

Administrative decision may be appealed to the courts independently of legislative permission.

It may be appealed even against legislative prohibition because the judiciary cannot be deprived of its inherent power to review all decisions on questions of law.

 Doctrine of Finality

Courts are reluctant to interfere with action of an administrative agency prior to its completion or finality, the reason being that absent a final order or decision, power has not been fully and finally exercised, and there can usually be no irreparable harm.

EXCEPTIONS:  Interlocutory order affecting the merits of a controversy; Preserve status quo pending further action by the administrative agency; Essential to the protection of the rights asserted from the injury threatened; Officer assumes to act in violation of the Constitution and other laws; Order not reviewable in any other way; Order made in excess of power

Doctrine of Primary Jurisdiction

  1. This doctrine states that courts cannot or will not determine a controversy which requires the expertise, specialized skills and knowledge of the proper administrative bodies because technical matters of intricate questions of fact are involved.
  2. Relief must first be obtained in an administrative proceeding before a remedy will be supplied by the court even though the matter is within the proper jurisdiction of a court.

Doctrine of Prior Resort

When a claim originally cognizable in the courts involves issues which, under a regulatory scheme are within the special competence of an administrative agency, judicial proceedings will be suspended pending the referral of these issues to the administrative body for its view.

Note:  The doctrines of primary jurisdiction and prior resort have been considered to be interchangeable.

Doctrine of Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies

  1. Under this doctrine, an administrative decision must first be appealed to the administrative superiors up to the highest level before it may be elevated to a court of justice for review.
  1. Reasons :
    1. to  enable  the  administrative  superiors  to  correct  the  errors  committed  by  their  subordinates.
    2. courts  should  refrain  from  disturbing  the  findings of  administrative. bodies  in  deference  to  the  doctrine  of  separation  of  powers.
    3. courts  should not  be saddled  with  the  review of  administrative  cases
    4. judicial  review  of  administrative cases is usually effected  through  special civil  actions which are available  only  if  their  is  no other  plain,  speedy and  adequate  remedy.

3.  Exceptions

a.  when  the question  raised is  purely  legal, involves constitutional questions

b.   when the administrative body is in estopped

c.   when act complained of is patently illegal

d.   when there is urgent need for judicial intervention

e.   when claim involved is small

f.    when irreparable  damage is involved

g.   when there is no other plain, speedy , adequate remedy

h.   when strong public interest is involved

I.    when the subject of controversy is private land

  1. in quo warranto proceedings
  2. When the administrative remedy is permissive, concurrent
  3. utter disregard of due process
  4. long-continued and unreasonable delay
  5. amount involved is relatively small
  6. when no administrative review is provided
  7. respondent is a department secretary (DOCTRINE  OF QUALIFIED POLITICAL AGENCY – ALTER EGO DOCTRINE)

Substantial evidence – defined to mean not necessarily preponderant proof as required in ordinary civil cases but such kind of relevant evidence which a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.

Reference:  Ateneo


About Magz

First of all, I am not a lawyer. I'm a graduate of AB Political Science and went to the College of Law but stopped going to law school for some reasons. I'm a passionate teacher who has been teaching English to speakers of other languages and a person who likes writing and blogging. I lost some important files and software when my computer broke down so the reason I created this website is to preserve the notes, reviewers and digests I collected when I was at the law school and at the same time, I want to help out law students who do not have enough time to go and read books in the library.

Posted on December 19, 2011, in Administrative Law and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Thank you Magz. Such a great help! Godbless you-

  2. Thank you for this Ms. Magz! Mch needed info for our midterms exam on admin law. God Bless you! 🙂

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