Precedent Decisions of California Agencies

Under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), an agency may designate as “precedent” a decision or part of a decision “that contains a significant legal or policy determination of general application that is likely to recur.” (Government Code §11425.60(b)). Precedent decisions can be used to clarify the agency’s interpretation of the existing law or to set out agency policy on the appropriate penalty for certain types of misconduct. Agency precedent decisions should not be confused with judicial precedent. Agency precedent decisions are designed to give licensees and the public some guidance on the agency’s interpretations of its laws and regulations. They are not binding precedent that a court must follow when it reviews the agency’s decision, although they may have persuasive value for the court. The agency may change the precedent at any time. If electing to use “precedent”, the Agency must maintain an index of significant legal and policy determinations made in those precedent decisions and make the index available to its licensees. (Government Code §11425.60(c)). Agencies that have adopted decisions as precedent often include the text of those decisions on their websites. Listed below are some of the better known California agencies and on where to locate their precedential decisions on the web:

If an agency does not provide its precedent decisions on its website, feel free to contact the agency or agency counsel to obtain an index of the decisions.