Regulatory Law



Regulatory Law deals with procedures established by federal, state, and local administrative agencies, as opposed to laws created by the legislature (statutory laws) or by court decisions (case law). Regulations can relate to a large array of executive branch activities, such as applications for licenses, oversight of environmental laws, and administration of social services like welfare, just to name a few.

Functions of Administrative Law

Also known as administrative law, regulatory laws can include everything from rulemaking to adjudication and enforcement. In other words, administrative laws often relate to functions akin to all three branches of government (i.e., legislative, judicial, and executive), but all of them flow from agencies that are considered to be a part of the executive branch. To demonstrate how regulatory law is often like three branches of government in one, consider how administrative laws usually come into being:

1. The legislative branch passes a law authorizing the creation of a new executive branch agency to enforce a set of laws (for example, the Environmental Protection Agency in order to enforce certain environmental clean up and preservation laws).

2. The statute authorizes the agency to pass regulations to meet the goals of its mandate and to enforce its rules. Thus the legislative rulemaking authority is delegated, in part, to the administrative agency.

3. The agency enacts regulations (sometimes they require legislative approval, sometimes they do not), then begins to enforce those rules (e.g., through fining or arrests). The enforcement of laws is a traditionally executive function.

4. The agency may also have procedures for hearings, and the results of those proceedings can become precedent on agency policies. These hearings are akin to the trial procedures for the judicial branch.

While administrative agencies are still a part of the executive branch and are still checked by the other two branches of government, their regulations and enforcement schema often resemble their own subsystem of government, inclusive of functions for all three branches. Consequently, when discussing any law that may be administered by an agency, it is important to look not just to the statutory law or the case law, but also to any regulatory rules and decisions related to that matter. Failing to do so may amount to overlooking an enormous portion of the body of law affecting that topic.

Non Executive Branch Agencies

Not all regulatory law flows from the executive branch. The U.S. Congress has also created several judicial bodies called Article I tribunals. These tribunals have different levels of independence from the executive and legislative branches, and serve functions such as reviewing agency decisions, military courts-martial appeal courts, ancillary courts with judges appointed by judicial branch appeals court judges, or administrative agencies.

Article I tribunals are often controversial and their power has frequently been challenged before the United States Supreme Court. So far, the Supreme Court has supported the existence of Article I tribunals, but has held that their power must be limited and, when a potential deprivation of life, liberty, or property is at stake, their decisions will normally be subject to review by a judicial branch court.

For more information about regulatory laws, please visit the resources listed below. Additionally, should you have a specific question or need assistance from an attorney, you can find one in your area by visiting our Law Firms page.

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Regulatory Law - US

  • ABA - Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice Section

    The Administrative Law Section serves its members, the bar and the public at-large, by providing a congenial forum to share new ideas and the most recent information on substantive and procedural developments in Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice.

  • Administrative Procedure Act (APA)

    The Administrative Procedure Act (APA) (P.L. 79-404) is the United States federal law that governs the way in which administrative agencies of the federal government of the United States may propose and establish regulations. The APA also sets up a process for the United States federal courts to directly review agency decisions. It is one of the most important pieces of United States administrative law.

  • National Association of Administrative Law Judiciary (NAALJ)

    NAALJ, a nonprofit corporation founded in Illinois in 1974, is the largest professional organization devoted exclusively to administrative adjudication within the executive branch of government. Its voting members exercise a broad subject matter jurisdiction and include state, federal, and local administrative law judges, administrative judges, hearing officers, referees, trial examiners, agency chairs, commissioners, and appellate authorities.

  • Regulatory Law - Definition

    Regulatory laws are procedures created by administrative agencies (governmental bodies of the city, county, state or Federal government) involving rules, regulations, applications, licenses, permits, available information, hearings, appeals and decision-making. Federal agency procedures are governed by the Administrative Procedure Act, and many states have adopted similar procedural formats either by law or regulation.

State Regulatory Commissions / Public Service Commissions

Organizations Related to Regulatory Law

  • Cato Institute

    The Cato Institute is a public policy research organization — a think tank — dedicated to the principles of individual liberty, limited government, free markets and peace. Its scholars and analysts conduct independent, nonpartisan research on a wide range of policy issues.

  • Center for Regulatory Effectiveness (CRE)

    The Center for Regulatory Effectiveness (CRE) was established in 1996, after the passage of the Congressional Review Act, to provide Congress with independent analyses of agency regulations. From this initial organizing concept, CRE has grown into a nationally recognized clearinghouse for methods to improve the federal regulatory process.

  • National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA)

    The National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy research organization, established in 1983. Our goal is to develop and promote private, free-market alternatives to government regulation and control, solving problems by relying on the strength of the competitive, entrepreneurial private sector.

  • National Center for Public Policy Research

    The National Center for Public Policy Research is a communications and research foundation supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today's public policy problems. We believe that the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility provide the greatest hope for meeting the challenges facing America in the 21st century.

  • Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs

    The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) is located within the Office of Management and Budget and was created by Congress with the enactment of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1980 (PRA). OIRA carries out several important functions, including reviewing Federal regulations, reducing paperwork burdens, and overseeing policies relating to privacy, information quality, and statistical programs.

  • RAND

    RAND focuses on the issues that matter most such as health, education, national security, international affairs, law and business, the environment, and more. With a research staff consisting of some of the world's preeminent minds, RAND has been expanding the boundaries of human knowledge for more than 60 years. As a nonpartisan organization, RAND is widely respected for operating independent of political and commercial pressures.

  • Regulations.gov

    Regulations.gov is your online source for U.S. government regulations from nearly 300 federal agencies.

Publications Related to Regulatory Law

  • Journal of Regulation

    Regulation can be defined as a set of mechanisms, rules, institutions, decisions and principles that allow certain sectors of the economy to grow and maintain equilibriums that they could not establish solely via their own economic strength.

  • OIRA - Regulatory Matters

    Under the Paperwork Reduction Act, OIRA reviews all collections of information by the Federal Government. OIRA also develops and oversees the implementation of government-wide policies in several areas, including information quality and statistical standards. In addition, OIRA reviews draft regulations under Executive Order 12866.

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