Withdrawal, Suspension, Revocation and Annulment of Licenses

An administrative agency which possesses licensing power also carries the authority to revoke or suspend licenses.  The power to revoke or suspend a license can be either judicial or quasi judicial in nature.  However, in order to challenge the suspension or revocation of a license of an agency, the licensee has to prove that the action of the agency was illegal and unreasonable.[i]

In Garris v. Governing Bd. of the S.C. Reinsurance Facility, 319 S.C. 388 (S.C. 1995), the court observed that before the agency proceedings, the licensee has to be provided with a notice regarding the facts which warrant action for withdrawal, suspension, revocation, or annulment of a license in writing and an opportunity to achieve compliance with all lawful requirements [ii] Similarly, the Model State Administrative Procedure Act states that, if the denial of a license is required to be preceded by notice and opportunity for hearing, the provisions concerning contested cases apply.[iii]

In Wendte v. State, 70 P.3d 1089 (Alaska 2003), the court observed that a person who loses a professional license in an administrative proceeding cannot be punished for double jeopardy although the revocation or suspension is based on misconduct that can be prosecuted as a criminal offense.  Therefore, professional license revocation aims the protection of the public from unfit practitioners.  If an appeal arises from the renewal or refusal to renew a license under a statutory scheme that contemplates a continuous cycle of license renewals, then the expiry of a license will not moot a controversy.[iv]

However, there are certain exceptions regarding the notice and opportunity requirements under the Federal Administrative Procedure Act.  The Act exempts notice and opportunity requirements relating to license withdrawal, suspension, revocation, or annulment in which the public health, interest, or safety are involved.[v] There is a similar provision in the Model State Administrative Procedure Act also.  Likewise, those cases involving willfulness are excepted from the notice and opportunity requirements according to the Federal Administrative Procedure Act.[vi]

[i] Blesso v. Board of Plumbing & Piping Examiners, 30 Conn. Supp. 262 (Conn. Super. Ct. 1972)

[ii] 5 USCS § 558(c)(2)

[iii] Berger v. Iowa Fin. Auth., 593 N.W.2d 136 (Iowa 1999)

[iv] Harris County Bail Bond Bd. v. Blackwood, 41 S.W.3d 123 (Tex. 2001)

[v] 5 USCS § 558(c)

[vi] Id


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