Have you ever wondered why delegated legislation is advised in many countries? Do you know the reasons for delegated legislation? In this article, i will painstakingly explain what delegated legislation is. Coupled with that, I will highlight some of the rationale for delegated legislation.
At the face of it, one will say that there is actually no reason for the legislature to deligate its law-making powers to any administrative agency, but this is not totally correct. In some situations, it is necessary for the legislature to delegate its powers. Take for instance, where the law which is to be made is a law that concerns an area which the legislature is not specialized in, it is wise for the legislature to delegate its powers to persons who are specialized in that area. Though delegated legislation has its disadvantages, that does not overrule the fact that it is also very beneficial.
This article is going to equip you with everything you need to know about delegated legislation. Basically, i will be discussing the rationale for delegated legislation. I enjoin you to read this work carefully so that you will be able to grasp all that will be explained in it.
Meaning of delegated legislation
Delegated legislation is any law made by any body, authority or agency empowered by statute to do so. Delegated legislation is administrative law-making in action. It is law-making by a public authority, other than the parliament.
A legislation is law made or enacted by the legislature. The legislative system may be a bicameral legislature like Nigeria, or a Unicameral comprising of only one chamber.
It is trite that many laws enacted by the legislature may contain clauses empowering the administering authority or agencies to make further laws, such as rules and regulations for the purpose of discharging such original law. Thus, laws enacted by the administrating body are known as delegated legislations.
Reasons for delegated legislation
Below are the reasons for delegated legislation:
- Technicalities of matters
- Unforseen problems
- Trivial matters
- Saving time of legislatures
- Emergency situations
- Regional development
- Pressure relief
- Limited time
- Dynamicsm of events
There you have a list of the reasons for delegated legislation. In short, those are the rationale behind the delegation of legislative powers. If you you need a detailed explanation of these points, keep reading as i explain them one after the other.
1. Technicalities of matters:
Apparently, the technicalities of some matters is one of the reasons for delegated legislation. The rate at which bills are passed by the legislature might sometimes be so enormous that they may come across or pass bills that may be so technical in nature.
These technicalities can only be known by those who will operate and regulate the law. In this situation therefore, the legislature must delegate its powers of law making to those that will regulate the law in order to make further rules and regulations relating to the enforcement of such bill.
Examples of matters that are technical in nature are; regulations dealing with safety of consumer goods, safety at the work place, detailed precautions to be taken against the misuse of drugs, detailed guidelines to guide communication industry and their customers, detailed guidelines and precaution of environmental pollution, etc.
In these areas, the legislature cannot make detailed regulations relating to the operation of this law, so the need to delegate powers to the operators who are technical experts become necessary because it provides for a power of constant adaptation to unknown further conditions without the necessity of amending the regulation.
This perhaps will suggest that experts experience is needed in the execution of delegated power.
2. Unforseen problems:
Another reason why the legislature will delegate its law making powers is to ensure that unforseen problems are handled properly when they arise. Sometimes in the course of operation or execution of a particular enacted legislation, problem may arise which are not foreseeable at the time of making the bill, and this can only be tackled by those in control of the execution.
If the problem cannot be averted, the need to give them powers to enact other rules or regulations to control or solve the problems becomes imperative. This is indeed a good and cogent reason for delegated legislation.
3. Trivial matters:
It is not the duty of the legislatures to legislate on trivial matters relating to operation or execution of all laws enacted by them. Trivial issues relate to such issues that are left to the discretion of other officers in charge of the implementation of the law.
For example, the Banking and insurance Law involves a lot of issues which can be regulated only by the Central Bank Governor through the powers conferred on him.
This point has be corroborated by Wade, H.W.R. According to Wade, H.W.R;
“in the conditions of the modern state, which not only has to undertake immense new services but, which before long may be responsible for the greater part of the industrial and commercial activities of the country, the practice of parliament delegating legislation and the power to make regulations instead of being grudgingly conceded, ought to be widely extended and new ways devised to facilitate the process.”
By this Wade is trying to say that the concept of delegated legislation must be widened so that the legislature will not have to legislate on both trivial matters when it is supposed to focus on important issues.
4. Saving time of legislatures:
Due to multiplicity of passing bills by the legislature, and coupled with the procedure the bills will have to pass through before they will become law, time is of essence in law making and for the legislatures alike.
For this reason, delegated legislation is very important. It will automatically save the time of the legislatures, as time needed to deliberate on rules and regulations will be judiciously utilized in other important law processing. This is also one of the good reasons for having delegated legislation.
5. Emergency situations:
One important areas where delegated legislation is very vital is during emergency situation. In Nigeria, the president is empowered to legislate and control the situation. Emergency period connotes the period when the federation is at war, and there is in force a resolution passed by the National Assembly declaring that a state of public emergency exist or a resolution of each house of parliament supported by not less than two third of all the members of the House declaring that democratic institutions in Nigeria are threatened by subversion.
Section 305 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is clear on this position by providing that, the president may by instrument published in the official Gazette of the government of the Federation; issue a proclamation of state of emergency in the Federation of any part thereof.
The civilian administration of Obasanjo Declared a state of emergency in Plateau and Ekiti states respectively in 2006/2007 using this power.
6. Regional development:
It is also the argument of some legal scholars that one of the reasons for delegated legislation is to sustain regional development. Where a particular region is deemed to be developed and such development needs to be sustained, the law here may be delegated.
Many countries adopted this method. For example, in Iraq, the Kurds were given some limited powers through delegation of powers to manage the Iraq Kurds. Nigeria too adopted this method from 1960 – 1966 prior to the creation of states. This is undoubtedly one of the good reasons for delegated legislation in most countries.
7. Pressure relief:
Evidently, the activities of law making are not easy task for the parliamentarians; the process the bill will follow through before becoming a law are tedious. Oversight functions undertaken by the legislatures are also tedious; hence, it will lead to increase of work and task if they are to legislate on every piece of legislation. This is obviously another reason for delegated legislation.
In order to reduce this pressure on their part, it becomes necessary that they must delegate powers to the administrative officers. This relief will enable the legislature to concentrate on principles rather than details of social regulation as well as matters of local interest. By this, delegated legislation also ensures that law are well drafted.
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8. Limited time:
The work of the legislature supposed to be for a limited time, while the execution of the law made by them is for long time unless such law is repealed, modified or abrogated. This indeed suggests that time constraint may incapacitate the legislatures to take care of every law.
In light of this, there is need to delegate powers to Administrative Officers who are deemed to be in seat until they retire to control other aspects of the implementation of the law, even if it will extend to making other subsidiary laws.
9. Dynamicsm of events:
You will agree with me that events and issues are not static, but changes from time to time. This is the more reason why delegated legislation is necessary in every part of the world. In my view, delegated legislature is an inevitable necessity.
The impact of dynamicsm of events makes law to be dynamic. Laws must be changed to meet the current demands of the society. Meanwhile, law maker while making laws are not in a position to take care of these dynamic changes. Hence, they have to delegate their law making powers to Administrative officers to legislate on their behalf to meet the current changes of the society.
In Nigeria, for example, section 153 of the 1999 Constitution which provides for the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal commission was established to regulate the changing needs of the allocation of revenue to various tiers of governments.
By way of conclusion, it must be noted that these and many more reasons may justify the delegation of powers by the legislature to other administrative officers. In my view, delegated legislation should be encouraged in every nation because it contributes greatly to the making of good and well drafted laws. In Nigeria for instance, the concept of delegated legislation has helped the legislature to make laws that covers almost every issue in the country. This is indeed my opinion on delegated legislation.
Hope this article was helpful? Don’t forget to ask questions if you do not understand any of the points raised above. Your contributions on delegated legislation are also welcomed. Send them using the comment box below.
Edeh Samuel Chukwuemeka ACMC, is a Law Student and a Certified Mediator/Conciliator in Nigeria. He is also a Developer with knowledge in HTML, CSS, JS, PHP and React Native. Samuel is bent on changing the legal profession by building Web and Mobile Apps that will make legal research a lot easier.