An Introduction to Administrative Law

By Peter Cane | Go to book overview
Save to active project

II
Introduction

A GENERAL PRINCIPLE

So far we have been concerned with rules of 'public law'. In this Part we will consider the way in which rules of private law can be used to challenge and control the activities of governmental bodies and other bodies performing public functions and, in particular, the way in which these rules are modified in their application to such bodies.

There is a strong tradition in English law of seeing private law rules as the paradigm governing not only relations between citizens but also relations between citizens and the government. According to the 19th century constitutional lawyer, A.V. Dicey, the 'rule of law' required that governmental officials should be answerable for their actions to the same extent and according to the same rules as private individuals. It is clear that this approach is inadequate as a complete theory of governmental liability if for no other reason than that there are grounds of public law illegality which have no application or relevance to the conduct of private individuals. But we might defend Dicey from further criticism by saying that his theory primarily concerned the application to the activities of government officials of private law rules of liability for loss or damage caused.

At the time Dicey was writing this view of the liability of governmental bodies was not entirely implausible, and so influential has Dicey's approach been that it is probably true to say that there is a basic principle in English law concerning the liability of public bodies that rules of private law liability apply to the activities of bodies and officials exercising public functions in the same way and to the same extent as they apply to the activities of private citizens, unless some good reason can be found why they should not. It seems clear, as we will see later, that private law rules are not always appropriate in an unqualified form as controls on the exercise of public functions. But it may well be that the best starting-point is a presumption that they do apply, leaving it to the defendant to adduce some good reason why they should not. In some instances, the legitimate demands of public policy may require that

-233-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
An Introduction to Administrative Law
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 401

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?