Supervisory authority

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Supervisory authorities are authorities of a state which are entrusted with the official , technical and / or legal supervision of private law or other state institutions.


These are instances of state administration that are located in a ministry , a special department or an independent authority. The supervisory authority is entrusted with the implementation of state supervision and is partially authorized to issue instructions to the supervised institution . Often some tasks of the supervisory authority, for example control functions, are also delegated to private law companies or individuals in the form of an agency agreement.

Important supervisory authorities are the nuclear supervisory authority , banking supervisory authority , trade supervisory authority , municipal supervisory authority or school supervisory authority . Some of these authorities also intervene in market developments through market regulation , such as the Federal Network Agency . For example, the European Banking Authority or the European Supervisory Authority for insurance and company pension schemes are supranationally active .

Legal issues

In the Federal Republic of Germany a distinction is made between official supervision, legal supervision and specialist supervision. Service and technical supervision are not always in the same authority. Local supervision is regulated by the federal states. In Lower Saxony from 1955 to 2011, the Lower Saxony Municipal Code formed one of the legal bases . Federal authorities such as the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority are subordinate to the respective Federal Ministry. The responsibility of the school authorities depends on whether the teachers are state officials or whether the school administration is assigned to a district government .

State authorities with a supervisory function (at least legal supervision) include all chambers such as the Medical Chamber , Chamber of Crafts , Chamber of Industry and Commerce or Chamber of Notaries .


Well-known supervisory authorities in Switzerland include the Federal Financial Market Authority (Finma), which oversees banking and insurance companies, and the Swiss Federal Nuclear Safety Inspectorate (ENSI), which is responsible for monitoring nuclear facilities . Analog functions in the field of occupational health and safety in (especially industrial) companies practicing according to the Labor Code , the cantonal labor inspectorates from. There are numerous other supervisory authorities that are somewhat less well known, for example the cantonal foundation supervision , which according to Art. 84 ZGB has to ensure that the assets of private foundations are "used according to its purposes".

A picture of the powers of supervisory authorities over establishments is conveyed e.g. B. Art. 27 of the Ordinance on the Federal Act on Work in Public Transport Companies : "The bodies of the supervisory authorities are entitled at any time to check that the companies and subsidiary companies are correctly complying with the statutory provisions on the spot".

Example debt collection and bankruptcy

This is the case of supervisory activity over an instance of the state administration. The Swiss Debt Enforcement and Bankruptcy Law provides that each Canton to monitor debt collection and bankruptcy offices shall designate a supervisory authority. The cantons can also appoint lower supervisory authorities for one or more districts (Art. 13 DEBA).

The supervisory authority must examine the management of each office at least once a year and, if necessary , impose the necessary disciplinary sanctions (Art. 14 DEBA); these are:

  • Reprimand ;
  • Fine of up to CHF 1,000;
  • Termination of office for a maximum of six months;
  • Removal from office.

The Federal Council acts as the supervisory authority for debt collection and bankruptcy (Art. 15 SchkG).

With the exception of cases in which the DEBG prescribes the route of legal action, complaints can be made against any decision by a debt enforcement or bankruptcy office to the supervisory authority for violation of the law or inappropriateness. The deadline for complaints is 10 days; Denial of rights and legal delay can be reprimanded at any time (Art. 17 SchKG).

A similar example of official supervision of other state bodies is the school inspectorate .

Important supervisory authorities in Austria include the Federal Competition Authority , the Data Protection Authority , the Financial Market Authority (FMA), the Telecommunications Office ( Telecommunications ) and the Austrian Communications Authority .


  • HR Schwarzenbach: Outline of general administrative law

Web links

Wiktionary: supervisory authority  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Carl Creifelds , Creifelds Rechtswörtbuch , 2000, p. 108