What is Administrative Law?

Professional associations, government boards and regulatory agencies make rules that affect our daily lives. For example, the provincial government makes laws about the minimum wage; the federal government makes laws about the rates we pay for telephone service; and some specialists, such as doctors, lawyers and accountants, are governed by associations that establish rules for practising their professions. The resolution of disputes involving government laws and how they are applied is called administrative law.

How Tribunals Are Involved

If you disagree with a decision that a particular government agency has made that affects you, a special board (an administrative tribunal) will hear your complaint and make a decision about your case. For example, if a federal government agency has denied you employment insurance benefits when you lost your job, a special tribunal would hear your complaint. A tribunal is sometimes called a “board” or a “commission”. In BC, the procedures of tribunals are governed by the Administrative Tribunals Act, as well as the internal bylaws and regulations developed by each agency, commission or board.

Types of Tribunals

The primary role of some organizations is to make rules in their specific area - these are regulatory agencies. Other agenices are primarily involved in resolving disputes in their specific area – these are called tribunals. There are dozens of provincial, and federal organizations that make regulations and resolve disputes.

In the BC Admin Law Directory, administrative agencies are listed as a Regulatory Agency or a Tribunal - based on their primary function. You can also see if the agency is provincial or federal. In addition, the directory lists administrative agencies in a series of topical categories. To learn which administrative agency handles your issue, select the category that most closely matches your issue.

This website provides additional information to help you undertstand the differences between tribunals vs courts, what happens before tribunal decisions, how tribunals make decisions and what to do if you disagree with a decision.