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Delegation of Powers for Modern Government: Statutory Mechanisms, the Carltona Principle and Suggestions for Reform

Makoto Hong Cheng & Wong Huiwen Denise

(2019) 31 SAcLJ 94

Delegation is a necessary part of modern government administration. The sheer volume of administrative decisions and subsidiary legislation required to be made means that it is often inevitable for a minister or a public officer who is vested with statutory powers to delegate these powers to other public officers. Although delegation and the related concept of devolution pervade all areas of government administration, these concepts are little understood and written about in Singapore. This article explores the topic of how statutory powers are delegated and devolved in government. The first part is explanatory. It outlines and explains the four options available to government agencies when seeking to delegate or devolve a statutory power – delegate on under the Interpretation Act (Cap 1, 2002 Rev Ed), delegation using specific statutory provisions, delegation using the doctrine of implied delegation, and devolution using the Carltona principle. The second part discusses the limitations and uncertainties of existing doctrines, as well as the possible inefficiencies that these may create in modern government. The third part suggests some reforms to help address these inefficiencies.