Article title The Principle of Legality vs. the Principle of Lawfulness: on the Issue of Updating the Legal Framework for Operation of Public Authorities


Name of magazine Legal journal «Law of Ukraine» (Ukrainian version)
Issue 11/2018
Сторінки [14-31]
DOI 10.33498/louu-2018-11-014

In the national science of law, the issues pertaining to legality as the operation principle of public authorities have been researched rather thoroughly. However, despite numerous scientific efforts, this topic has not been exhausted, since in the recent decades there have been fundamental changes in the understanding of the place and role of an individual and citizen for the State, as well as in the principles of functioning of public authorities, thus necessitating a review of the attitude to the meaning of the legality principle. The purpose of the article is to prove that currently the principle of legality should be replaced with the principle of legitimacy. In this article the author studies how the principle of legality was established and understood in scientific literature from the late XIX century till the beginning of the XXI century. Special attention is given to the explanation of the reasons giving rise to such categories as “revolutionary legality”, “socialist legality” and their meaning. The author makes an interim conclusion that legality was understood as the requirements to public authorities, other representatives of the State and individuals to act in accordance with laws and other legal acts. Based on results of the analysis of Ukrainian as well as foreign (in post-Soviet countries) regulations and approaches to the principle of legality entrenched therein, the author emphasizes the need for changing the attitude to its understanding and further use. The author proves that it is erroneous to conclude that legality is the requirement to comply with (observe) the entire set of laws and regulations. The article notes that legality is the requirement to observe exclusively the requirements of laws. It is also noted that it is impossible to interpret the categories “law” and “legislation” using a broad approach. The author makes a conclusion that legislation should be understood only as a set of laws, codes (as a separate type of law), international treaties ratified by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, and decrees of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine. The article demonstrates that in the post-Soviet countries the principle of legality, its meaning and understanding were formed against the background of absence of the rule of law principle, which has significantly changed the meaning and understanding of many legal categories, including the principle of legality. Accordingly, the author suggests that the category “principle of legality” be withdrawn from legal circulation as outdated and replaced with the category “principle of lawfulness” which should be understood as the obligation of public authorities to comply with requirements of all legal provisions (formalized and non-formalized) regulating their operation; the author also proposes to introduce into legal circulation and into the system of administrative law principles an additional (updated) principle – the principle of hiera rchical superiority of law; and make changes to the text of Part 2, Article 19 of the Constitution of Ukraine by entrenching the provision that public authorities and local self-government bodies and their officials should act on the basis, within the powers and in the manner provided for by law and statutes.


Keywords legality; law; legislation; lawfulness; the rule of law

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