The Administrative Process as a Domain of Conflicting Interests

Daphne Barak-Erez


The article presents the argument that administrative decision-making should be understood as devoted to balancing between conflicting interests of individuals or groups, usually when none of the affected parties has predefined legal rights that are relevant to the substantial content of the administrative decision. Administrative decisions often have a direct effect not only on human and civil rights issues, but also on matters bearing on the quality of life, living conditions, prices of regulated products, and the allocation of government funds. Since the decision as to which interest should prevail in the conflict is a distributive one and has many possible answers, the role of administrative law is primarily to ensure that these decisions are made fairly, with due weight given to the conflicting interests of the various groups and individuals involved. With this as background, the article shows how the doctrines of positive administrative law are designed to meet the challenge of coping with conflicting interests in the administrative decision-making process, using such examples as the prohibitions against decision-makers’ conflicts of interest and the rules regarding interest representation and judicial review. In the second part, the article applies the interest perspective to the administrative decision-making process in order to analyze the highly extensive regulation of land resources in Israel. The analysis concentrates on the Israeli Supreme Court decision in one of the most controversial petitions brought before it: against administrative decisions on the development (toward urbanization) of formerly agricultural lands (the Mizrahi Democratic Rainbow case).

Full Text: