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Intervention in Administrative Adjudications

In administrative adjudication an agency applies its policies and rules to decide upon administrative disputes.  Procedures set by the Administrative Procedure Act will be strictly followed in administrative adjudication.

Generally, persons who are interested in an administrative proceeding can participate in a proceeding as parties to the suit or can intervene in the proceedings.[i] Administrative agencies are granted the discretionary power to grant or deny a petition to intervene.  The discretionary power is allotted to administrative agencies to prevent unnecessary intervention.[ii] Persons who are not sufficiently interested in a suit can deter the proper functioning of the adjudication procedure.  Therefore, with the discretionary power, administrative agencies can administer participation of persons in an administrative action.

Even persons who do not have right to seek judicial review of an action can be allowed to intervene in an administrative adjudication. [iii] This is because administrative agencies are not bound by the civil procedure rules.  Administrative agencies can apply discretionary power to involve parties in an action.  The only ground that is mandatory is that the discretionary power should be used reasonably and not arbitrarily. [iv]

According to the Model State Administrative Procedure Act of 1981, a person who wants to intervene in an administrative action should produce a written application to the hearing officer.  The application should describe the applicant’s rights, duties, privileges, immunities, or other legal interests that can be affected if the applicant is not allowed to intervene.  If the applicant is qualified to intervene in a proceeding according to any legal provision it should be provided in the application.

If a hearing officer finds that the application is legal and the proper conduct of the administrative proceedings will not be impaired by intervention of the person, the intervenor can be allowed to participate in the proceedings.  The hearing officer can grant a petition for intervention at any time of the proceeding.  However, the hearing officer can set certain prerequisites before allowing the application.  The prerequisites can be as listed:

  • An intervenor can be specifically allowed to participate in certain issues in which the intervenor has interest.
  • An intervenor can be specifically allowed to use the process of discovery, cross-examination, and other procedures for proper conduct of adjudication proceedings.
  • Two or more intervenors can be required to combine their presentation of evidence for speedy adjudication.

[i] Pleasantville v. Lisa’s Cocktail Lounge, Inc., 33 N.Y.2d 618 (N.Y. 1973)

[ii] Nizzardo v. State Traffic Comm’n, 259 Conn. 131 (Conn. 2002)

[iii] Envirocare, Inc. v. NRC, 194 F.3d 72 (D.C. Cir. 1999)

[iv] Kes Brockton, Inc. v. Dep’t of Pub. Utils., 416 Mass. 158 (Mass. 1993)

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