How Is Delegated Legislation Controlled?

Delegated legislation, which is formally referred to as "regulations" to distinguish it from acts of a legislative body, is controlled by court orders and higher-level legislation that directs the function of the agency charged with enforcing the regulations. Courts routinely impose limits to administrative law, and the boundaries of such regulations are often prescribed directly by the enabling legislation.

Delegated legislation is subject to a process known as judicial review, and challenges to an agency's regulations are routinely heard in administrative law courts. These courts are empowered to determine the legitimate scope and effect of delegated legislation. Courts are also at liberty to void regulations that an agency has drafted if they are found to be too broad or if the regulations are of such a scope that they can only be properly drafted by a legislative body. Delegated legislation is also subject to restraint by the legislature, as regulations drafted by an executive agency are always subordinate to the enabling legislation that empowers the agency. Laws passed by a state legislature, for example, may empower a department of motor vehicles to set registration fees but restrict the department's method of assigning fees by vehicle weight or estimated value of the vehicle.