What is Administrative Law?
Administrative law has been described as the set of legal principles that governs the relationship between the government and the governed.
The exercise of powers by government departments must be based on legal authority. That authority is usually found in:
- statutes (laws passed by Parliament); or
- regulations made by regulatory authorities.
These laws and regulations can give regulatory authorities the power to make decisions that affect your individual rights.
Administrative law deals with challenging those decisions.
A prominent Victorian real estate agent with 14 years’ experience in the industry was charged and convicted of a criminal offence. The offence did not have any connection to their business dealings and did not result in a custodial sentence, however the estate agent’s licence was automatically cancelled.
The Estate Agents Act 1980 (Vic) (Act) provides that a person’s estate agent’s licence is automatically cancelled 30 days after being convicted of an offence.
However, the Act also enables a person to apply to the Business Licensing Authority (BLA) for permission to hold a licence, despite the conviction. The test is whether the BLA is satisfied that it would not be contrary to the public interest to grant permission.
The agent applied to the BLA and Slater and Gordon made detailed submissions as to why they should be able to hold a licence. The BLA decided to refuse the application and the agent’s licence was cancelled.
Slater and Gordon then made an application on behalf of the agent to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) for a review of the BLA’s decision.
VCAT heard evidence of the agent’s good reputation and character, their standing in the industry and the uncharacteristic nature of the offending. VCAT decided to set aside the BLA’s decision and grant the agent permission to hold their licence.
As a result, the agent was able to continue in the real estate industry and preserve a successful business that had taken eight years to establish.