ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE IS NOT USED, IN WHOLE OR IN PART, IN THE SUMMARIES OF JUDICIAL AND QUASI-JUDICIAL DECISIONS PREPARED BY NYPPL

February 19, 2021

The authority of an administrative agency's to adopt regulations to implement legislation

Regulations of the Office of Victim Services [OVS], as amended in January 2016, limited attorneys' fee awards for crime victim claimants to the costs incurred on applications for administrative reconsideration or appeal and on judicial review.* The question presented to the Court of Appeals [Court] in this appeal was whether these regulations, as amended, were in conflict with the authorizing statute** or were otherwise irrational.  

Citing Consolidated Edison Co. of New York v Department of Environmental Conservation, 71 NY2d 186, the Court said that administrative agencies have "all the powers expressly delegated to [them] by the Legislature" and are "permitted to adopt regulations that go beyond the text of [their] enabling legislation, so long as those regulations are consistent with the statutory language and underlying purpose." 

Although "an administrative agency may not, in the exercise of [its] rule-making authority engage in broad-based public policy determinations ... [t]he cornerstone of administrative law is ... the principle that the Legislature may declare its will, and after fixing a primary standard, endow administrative agencies with the power to fill in the interstices in the legislative product by prescribing rules and regulations consistent with the enabling legislation."

Further, the Court said it has long recognized that "where flexibility is required to enable an administrative agency to adapt to changing conditions, it is sufficient if the Legislature confers broad power upon the agency to fulfill the policy goals embodied in the statute, leaving it up to the agency itself to promulgate the necessary regulatory details."

The standard for judicial review of those regulatory details "'is whether the regulation has a rational basis and is not unreasonable, arbitrary or capricious." Where the legislature has left to an agency's discretion the determination of "what specific standards and procedures are most suitable to accomplish the legislative goals," the agency's rule making powers, "[i]f reasonably designed to further the regulatory scheme, ... cannot be disturbed by the courts unless the provision is arbitrary, illegal or runs afoul of the enabling legislation or constitutional limits ... regardless of [the court's] assessment of the 'wisdom' of the agency's approach."

The Court explained that the regulations as amended by OVS "are fully consistent with the governing statutory language and purpose," and thus are "within OVS's authority, and rational." Notwithstanding the Petitioners' argument and the dissent's reasoning to the contrary, the Court concluded that the statute, when read as a whole, grants OVS the authority to determine whether attorneys' fees are "reasonable."

Noting that "there may be other valid ways in which OVS could have defined 'reasonable' attorneys' fees," the definition in the amended regulations is rational and the application of those regulations to deny the Petitioners' fee applications "was not arbitrary and capricious."

Finding that the regulations as amended by OVS were consistent with the statutory language and OVS had "appl[ied] its special expertise in a particular field to interpret [that] statutory language," the Court held that OVS' determination was entitled to deference and, reversing the decision of the Appellate Division, reinstated the judgement of the Supreme Court.

* See 9 NYCRR §§525.3, 525.9

** Executive Law Article 22,

The text of the decision of the Court of Appeals is posted on the Internet at:
http://www.nycourts.gov/reporter/3dseries/2021/2021_01091.htm


CAUTION

Subsequent court and administrative rulings, or changes to laws, rules and regulations may have modified or clarified or vacated or reversed the decisions summarized here. Accordingly, these summaries should be Shepardized® or otherwise checked to make certain that the most recent information is being considered by the reader.
THE MATERIAL ON THIS WEBSITE IS FOR INFORMATION ONLY. AGAIN, CHANGES IN LAWS, RULES, REGULATIONS AND NEW COURT AND ADMINISTRATIVE DECISIONS MAY AFFECT THE ACCURACY OF THE INFORMATION PROVIDED IN THIS LAWBLOG. THE MATERIAL PRESENTED IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE AND THE USE OF ANY MATERIAL POSTED ON THIS WEBSITE, OR CORRESPONDENCE CONCERNING SUCH MATERIAL, DOES NOT CREATE AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP.
New York Public Personnel Law Blog Editor Harvey Randall served as Principal Attorney, New York State Department of Civil Service; Director of Personnel, SUNY Central Administration; Director of Research, Governor’s Office of Employee Relations; and Staff Judge Advocate General, New York Guard. Consistent with the Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a Committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers and Associations, the material posted to this blog is presented with the understanding that neither the publisher nor NYPPL and, or, its staff and contributors are providing legal advice to the reader and in the event legal or other expert assistance is needed, the reader is urged to seek such advice from a knowledgeable professional.
New York Public Personnel Law. Email: publications@nycap.rr.com