Administrative law is the law of the executive, the state administration, and as such – along with constitutional law – a sub-matter of public law. Administrative law regulates the legal relations of the state to its citizens, but also the functioning of the institutions of the administration and their relationship to each other. Within administrative law, a distinction is usually made between general and special administrative law. General administrative law lays down the foundations and principles of the administration and its activities. Special administrative law establishes subject-specific legal rules for special activities of individual administrative branches (e.g. building law, municipal law, road traffic law).
The term administration is used in everyday language (e.g. property management, asset management) as well as in legal language (e.g. insolvency administration, estate administration) and denotes an activity aimed at the preservation and development of a material or legal entity. There is always an element of status quo in the everyday use of the term, but it also has dynamic tendencies. Example: Asset management is intended to preserve assets, but also to increase them. The static (preservation) and the dynamic (promotion) are also elements of public administration. The difference between the everyday concept of administration and that of public administration is that the latter fulfils public tasks that serve a public interest, namely the common good. Pure government activity is to be distinguished from this because it performs political management tasks and the judicial power.
Accordingly, administration is the fulfilment of public tasks by the state or other administrative bodies that cannot be attributed to legislation, jurisdiction or government (so-called negative definition of administration).