Chapters of the article
The administrative authority must not forget that the Administrative Code expressly provides that public administration is a service to the public. Anyone who performs tasks arising from the competence of an administrative authority has a duty to behave courteously towards the persons concerned and to accommodate them as far as possible.
What is an administrative procedure?
In legal parlance, an administrative procedure is a process conducted by an administrative authority, the main purpose of which is to issue a decision. This regulates and, where appropriate, establishes or completely abolishes the rights and obligations of the parties to the proceedings. The administrative procedure is governed by the Administrative Procedure Code, which, among other things, defines the administrative authorities and sets out the principles of their activities.
The term administrative proceedings therefore covers all proceedings in which public authorities (administrative bodies) decide on the rights and obligations of people, companies and organisations in the field of public administration. These may be proceedings to ensure public order and safety, to protect the environment or cultural monuments, but also to regulate the conditions for doing business and to grant building permits, residence permits or trade licences. All of us have been involved in many such proceedings without even realising it.
Parties to administrative proceedings and their rights
Anyone whose rights and obligations may be directly or indirectly affected by the procedure should be a party to the administrative procedure. Often this may include people who seemingly have little to do with the original case (e.g. in the case of a factory permit, residents living in the vicinity of the factory may be affected). Other stakeholders are then persons directly provided for by law (e.g. civic associations, whose participation may be regulated by the Nature and Landscape Protection Act). If the procedure is initiated by an application, the applicant is in any case a party to it.
Any party to the procedure will certainly be interested in their rights. First of all, it should be noted that all parties are always equal. Each of them can therefore express his or her views on any matter on which he or she considers it relevant. Other rights of the parties include, unless otherwise excluded or provided for by law in a particular case, for example:
- theright to information and assistance from the administrative authority,
- theright to propose evidence and to add observations at any time during the proceedings,
- theright to inspect the file,
- theright to attend hearings and to be informed of them in good time,
- theright to appeal against the decision taken or to avail oneself of other remedies,
- theright to seek protection against inaction by the administrative authority,
- theright to complain in the event of improper conduct by representatives of the administrative authority.
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What is the administrative procedure?
Every administrative procedure can be divided into three basic stages – the initiation of the administrative procedure, its course and the issuance of a decision.
Initiation of administrative proceedings
Administrative proceedings can be initiated in two ways. In the first case, it is initiated ex officio, i.e. on the initiative of the administrative authority. Such proceedings may also be initiated at the initiative of the public, but this is not a condition.
The second way is to initiate administrative proceedings directly at the request of one of the parties. This must be delivered to the competent administrative authority, which then secures all the remaining parties and initiates the procedure. If, for example, the application is for entry in the land register, the recipient of the application will be the land registry office.
Progress of the administrative procedure
The administrative authority should start acting as quickly as possible. All parties to the administrative procedure must be informed without undue delay and in accordance with the law. In addition to the parties, the administrative authority shall collect the documents necessary for the decision. These include, for example, applications and motions, evidence and other documents relating to the subject matter of the administrative procedure. The administrative authority may or may not order an oral hearing. It may then even have any witnesses not only summoned to the hearing but also produced if they refuse to appear.
Issuance of a decision
All activities of the administrative authority that take place in the procedure should be directed towards the issuance of an administrative decision. The administrative authority shall proceed to it when the parties to the proceedings and all the necessary supporting documents have been collected. The parties should also be given sufficient time to comment on the documents and, if necessary, to supplement them in any way.
The decision should be taken without undue delay – in the case of simple cases , within 30 days of the initiation of the proceedings at the latest. In more complicated cases, where additional evidence is required or additional persons have to be summoned, the time limit may be extended by a further 30 days.
The decision itself is usually in writing and consists of a statement of reasons and a statement of reasons. If a party disagrees with the decision or believes that it is unlawful, it may defend itself against it. This may be done by means of an appeal or opposition.
If the administrative procedure is initiated upon request, the administrative fees associated with these actions must be taken into account and are usually paid by the applicant. These are regulated by the Administrative Fees Act, which contains an overview of administrative fees and information on when they are due or how they are to be paid. The Act also provides that state bodies or funds, local self-government units and certain other institutions are exempt from paying administrative fees.
Inaction by the administrative authority
As we have already mentioned, the administrative authority must always proceed quickly with a case in order to issue an administrative decision within the shortest possible time. But what if in practice you encounter the opposite case, where the procedure takes a long time and nothing happens for weeks? Then you can apply for injunctive relief. The request is made to a superior authority, which will admonish the inactive authority or take over the case and decide itself.
If this initiative is not possible, there is also an action against the inaction of the administrative authority, which must be addressed to the regional court. However, the action must only be brought in response to an unsuccessful application for an injunction and must be brought within one year of the date on which the decision should have been taken.
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