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Florida Administrative Law: Rule Interpretation and Enforcment

Decisions of Agencies and the Division of Administrative Hearings

Administrative proceedings to resolve disputes are generally

  • adjudicatory or substantial interests proceedings and/or
  • rule challenge proceedings.
  • The same dispute may involve both categories.

An adjudicatory/substantial interests proceeding or a rule challenge proceeding may or may not require the resolution of "disputed issues of material fact."

A case that involves a disputed issue of material fact is a "section 120.57(1)" proceeding under the APA.  It may be referred to as a "formal proceeding," although this term is no longer in the APA.  Such a case must be heard by an administrative law judge (ALJ) at the Division of Administrative Hearings (DOAH).

If a case does not involve a disputed issue of material fact, it is a "section 120.57(2)" proceeding under the APA.  In the past, such a proceeding was called "an informal proceeding."  You may still hear this term used, but it is no longer in the APA.  Such cases may be heard within the agency itself.

ALJ and agency decisions may be found on the DOAH website, on Westlaw and Lexis, on the website of the Florida Administrative Law Reports and in their print sets of orders, and on agency websites.

120.57(1) Proceedings

Disputed Issues of Material Fact

If the underlying facts in a rule challenge or an adjudicatory/substantial interests proceeding are contested, the case must be heard by a neutral fact-finder and not by the agency.  Such disputes are heard by Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) in the Division of Administrative Hearings (DOAH).

Read about 120.57(1) proceedings in Florida Administrative Practice, Ch. 2 and 4 (9th ed., Fla. Bar), available on Lexis.

120.57(2) Proceedings

No Disputed Issues of Material Fact

An agency may decide a case that does not involve disputed issues of material fact, because the agency can interpret its rules and the laws that govern it.  

The agency may base its decision entirely on a written record.  It may occasionally require a hearing.

Read about 120.57(2) proceedings in Florida Administrative Practice, Ch. 5 (9th ed., Fla. Bar), available on Lexis.

Florida Agencies Using DOAH

Agency Retention of Orders

The Florida Bar, Administrative Law Section has compiled a table, published in the June 2013 Newsletter, of the manner in which agency orders can be accessed.  A link to the document is below this excerpt.

Florida Agency Decisions on Lexis

Florida Administrative Law Reports

Florida Administrative Law Reports Website:
FALR in Print (Research Center)
  • FALR: Florida Administrative Law Reporter: KFF 440 A52
  • ER FALR: Environmental & Land Use Reporter: KFF 354 A553
  • FPSC: Florida Public Service Commission Reporter: KFF 285.1 A55 F47
  • TAX FALR: Florida Department of Revenue Reporter: KFF 470 A5544
  • FCSR: Florida Career Service Reporter: KFF 332.8 P77 A493
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