The responsibilities of local authorities are not always stipulated by law. Local authorities may handle certain tasks on the basis of the municipal authority rules.
The municipal authority rules constitute a set of unwritten rules (principles) on the non-statutory responsibilities of local authorities.
A precise definition of whether, under municipal authority rules, a local authority may handle a certain task is often a complex exercise as the municipal authority rules comprise a number of imprecise and often overlapping rules.
The rules stipulate that tasks to be handled or supported by the local authority must be of a certain benefit to the local citizens, that the local authority must not handle tasks that have been transferred to other authorities and that support must not be given to individuals or sole traders unless specifically provided for by law.
A classic example of a task to be handled by a local authority under the municipal authority rules is initiatives related to recreational, cultural and sports activities.
Likewise, it is assumed that under the municipal authority rules local authorities are allowed to “manufacture” for their own use in the form of e.g. laundry services. Moreover, the municipal authority rules are based on the principle that local authorities are not allowed to engage in commercial activities (trade, crafts, the production of goods and services, etc.).
If the handling of a local authority task is regulated by statute law (acts, executive orders), it should not also be considered in terms of the municipal authority rules. Thus, the municipal authority rules are subordinate to statute law.