Administrative Law [AL]

Public contracts and public procurement
Administrative governance
Urban planning
Energy, natural resources and the environment
Head of Research Group:
Alexandra Leitão
Research Team
The quest for the balance between a rigorous scientific approach to Administrative Law, its contemporary challenges, and the production of outputs that are of relevance for the society are at the heart of the purpose of the Administrative Law Research Group (RG:AL).
Few legal disciplines have gone through as many changes over the past 40 years as Administrative Law has. Born with the modern concept of State, it was originally concerned with the execution of the law by means of unilateral acts of public authority, to be practised in the name of what the national administration deemed to be the public interest. Due to the unparalleled growth of privatisation and contracting out, the public-private divide has become fuzzy. Simultaneously, the increasing recourse to negotiation and to contracts has made the public administration evolve from a model of coercion composed of command-and-control to one of persuasion and consensus. The traditional bilateral administrative agencies/citizen relationship has been substituted: on the public end, by a plurality of autonomous public bodies; on the private end, by the recognition of the polygonal effects of administrative acts, affecting a plurality of individuals in different fashions. The univocal quasi-sacred concept of public interest has made room to a comprehensive understanding of the existence of several (conflicting) public interests, in permanent tension among them and with private interests, which are also afforded constitutional protection. The resort to informal acts, such as warnings and recommendations, has complemented the typical forms of administrative action. The increase of participation and of duties to hear and provide reasons has provided new sources of legitimacy to administrative agencies. European integration and globalisation have demonstrated that Administrative Law flourishes beyond the state, anywhere where there are administrative apparatuses.
With this backdrop, RG:AL has chosen to focus its research on two areas of the modern Administrative Law: (i) governance and (ii) public policies. Both will be treated from an interdisciplinary perspective, with the analysis of economic figures and the recourse to statistics, the cooperation of urban planning and engineering experts, as well as law and economics insights.
Lines of Research
RG:AL manages two autonomous and cross-sectional lines of research entitled Energy, Natural Resources & the Environment and Global Administrative and Regulatory Governance.