A date has been set for a court challenge which will establish what decisions civil servants can take in the absence of ministers.
The appeal against a decision of the High Court that a senior civil servant could not approve a controversial waste incinerator will be heard on 25 June.
It has been given an expedited hearing to speed up the legal process.
The head of the Civil Service David Sterling said last month that the appeal was necessary.
He said it was needed to establish what decisions could be taken by civil servants without an executive.
In May a judge decided that the permanent secretary of the Department for Infrastructure did not have the power to give the £240m project the go-ahead.
Peter May had argued that the decision was necessary to ensure Northern Ireland complied with waste targets.
The Arc21 incinerator had been turned down by a previous environment minister before changes to planning laws meant responsibility for regionally important planning decisions passed to the infrastructure department.
Campaigners opposed the incinerator on health grounds and had argued that it would discourage recycling.
They mounted a successful legal challenge to Mr May's decision to approve the waste plant.
Mr Sterling said that outcome had "potentially wide ranging implications" in the absence of ministers.
He said the appeal would provide greater "clarity" on the legal position in which civil servants found themselves.
The Department for Infrastructure said it would not take any other regionally important planning decisions until the matter was cleared up.