The article deals with the legal problems of empowering local governments functioning in the territories of forward-looking social and economic development. A considerable attention is paid to the history of emergence and development of such territories, beginning with the initial attempts to define the legal status of the «free economic zones» in 1991 all the way through to the adoption of the fundamental act «On the territories of forward-looking social and economic development in the Russian Federation », this being the result of a long process of the development of the Russian investment legislation. Analyzing it, the authors come to a conclusion about the absence of a unified approach to the definition of competences that the local authorities have in the governance of territories with a special regime of economic life. Specific rules of law in this field are scattered and do not constitute a unified system. Special attention is also paid to the question of legal liability of persons who carry out economic activities in the territories of forward-looking development. The authors analyze the wordings of different legal documents, related to the issue in question, since the law of 2014 does not establish any norms of responsibility for officials or participants in the agreements concerning such territories. Addressing the weaknesses of the 2014 law, the article proposes some remedies to them which could lead both to enhancing legislation and tangible budget savings in this field.
territories of forward-looking social and economic development; local governments; the powers of state authorities in Russia.