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The regulatory context consists of several types of legal rules: The most often used labels for categories are constitutional and administrative legislations, primary and secondary legislation, case law and informal regulation (also called pseudo regulation).

Constitutional and administrative legislation

The constitutional and administrative legislation allocates responsibilities, tasks and decision power over authorities. By this the demarcation between the public domain and the civic society is established, and the expected patterns of interaction are connoted.

The constitutional and administrative legislation determines which authorities are in place at different geographical scales and, if applicable, with regard to specified domains.

Often the procedures by which decisions are taken are also prescribed. For primary legislation (usually referred to as 'law') this is often described in constitutional legislation, for secondary legislation in administrative law. Secondary law is prepared and issues by public authorities that got appointed to certain tasks and responsibilities by constitutional law and are equipped with the right to issue secondary rules within a certain scope. 

Not complying to the requirements set by these regulations, for instance not following procedures or not applying the adequate standards, will lead to a non-legal decisions. 

Case law and separation of powers

Case-law constitutes in many, not all, countries an important source of information. Case law refers to juridical verdicts on disputed decisions. Whether and how decisions by authorities (supra-national, national, regional and local) can be disputed in court ('appeal') is described in constitutional and administrative law. The verdict contains information on how regulations and standards should be interpretated for specific cases (a decision in a certain context). Untill new regulations or new verdicts from the judiciary power are made public these verdicts give guidance for other more or less equal situations. Of course such BwN relevant decisions referred to often will concern procedures, (nature) assesments, approval of rejection and documents like permits that specify conditions of approval.

This regulatory system in many countries aim at steering of society and avoidance of the abuse of power. Serving the common interest without abusing individual interests connotes the key of civilized interaction between the public authorities and civic society. This is why in most countries some form of the Trias Politica, the system of seperation of powers in the public domain, can be found. 

Why is there informal or pseudo regulation?

Political agendas and policies can change rapidly. Including such temporary preferences in primary or secondary laws makes no sense. Therefore, next to secondary legislation, all kind of content related issues are to be found in pseudo regulations (which are announced in formal rules as discretional space for authorities to set additional rules or specify general standards), policy guidelines and policy documents (which are not necessarily announced in formal regulations) and policy plans. In most cases these informal rules limit the discretionary space of authorities. Informal rules indicate which decisions are most likely to be taken. For instance plans often include the principles of (re-) development. Often in case law the public and accepted plans are taken in consideration. 

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