Forvaltningen gav og forvaltningen tok

by Vincent Tsang

This presentation concerns withdrawal/revokation of administrative permits.  Administrative permits – that is administrative decisions granting the addressee permission to carry out otherwise forbidden activities or operations – are frequently used in virtually all administrative areas, and they constitute, and will probably go on constituting, the legal basis for a large number of the activities and for a large part of the added value generated in society. The administrative permits are of many different kinds : they may involve anything from commercial permits like taxi licences, liquor licences and permits for petroleum exploration to permits of a more personal character like building permits for private residences. Withdrawal/revokation of such permits may involve very negative consequences for the individual permit holder as well as for society itself.  Accordingly, there are good reasons for encouraging some degree of predictability with regard to possible administrative decisions of withdrawal/revokation.

This kind of desire for predictability may, however, initially appear to be in disharmony with the general assumption of Norwegian law that public administration is entitled to reverse previous decision, including withdrawal/revocation of granted permits, without statutory authority, if the considerations in favour of revocation carry more weight than the considerations justifying an upholding of status quo.  To a great extent this will be a question of balancing incommensurable quantities, and there may be differing opinions as to the existence of a substantial predominance of interest justifying a withdrawal/revocation on a non-statutory basis.

The primary purpose of this presentation is to contribute to increasing the predictability of this balancing of interests.  This has in particular been attempted by comparing the non-statutory right to withdrawal/revokation to a series of legal standards set out in general administrative law, which has as its objective to attend to society’s need for predictability and which sets absolute limits for the authority of public administration.  In addition, one purpose of the presentation has been to normalize the relation between the non-statutory right to withdrawal/revokation and the rest of administrative law by refuting points of view presented in legal theory claiming that the non-statutory right to withdrawal/revokation constitutes an extraordinary or abnormal legal hypothesis.