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The action taken and discretion exercised by public administrative agencies or bodies that are obliged to investigate or ascertain facts and draw conclusions from them as the foundation for official actions.

As a general rule, only courts of law have the authority to decide controversies that affect individual rights. One major exception to this general rule is the power of an Administrative Agency to make decisions concerning the rights of parties. An administrative agency is a body of government created by a legislature and charged with supervision and regulation of a particular area of governmental concern. Part of the regulatory power given to an administrative agency is the power of adjudication. Under the Administrative Procedure Act (60 Stat. 237 [5 U.S.C.A. § 551 et seq.]), an agency engages in adjudication when it follows a process for the formulation of an order. With the exception of rule making, any decision by an agency that has a legal effect is a quasi-judicial action.

Complaints against administrative agencies often arise when an agent denies benefits or places restrictions on an individual. For example, a homeowner who seeks to build another structure on her property must obtain approval from a number of administrative agencies. If the local conservation agency refuses to issue a permit for the building of a new structure, the homeowner may appeal this decision in a hearing before the agency's administrative board. The board may hear testimony and examine evidence at the hearing, and then it will decide whether to issue the permit or uphold the agency's refusal.

Quasi-judicial activity is limited to the issues that concern the particular administrative agency. For example, the social security administration may resolve disputes on issues concerning Social Security contributions and benefits, but it may not decide any other issues, even those related to Social Security benefits such as tax, estate, and probate questions.

An administrative agency must hold a formal hearing only when required by statute. A formal hearing is a complete hearing with the presentation of testimony, evidence, and arguments. An informal hearing usually is a simple meeting and discussion between an agent of the agency and the individual affected by the agency's actions. As a general rule, the scope of a hearing depends on the importance of the right at issue. If the Internal Revenue Service attempts to take away a person's homestead, for example, a full hearing would be required. By contrast, when an agent of the Department of Safety issues a small fine for illegal parking, the agency needs to provide only a brief, one-to-one meeting with a hearing officer regarding the issuance of the fine.

Quasi-judicial action by an administrative agency may be appealed to a court of law. With a few exceptions, a plaintiff generally must exhaust all remedies available through an agency before appealing the agency's decision in a case. One notable exception is that a person may appeal directly to a court of law and bypass the quasi-judicial activity of an administrative agency if the agency's remedies would be inadequate. For instance, if the creditors of a failed bank are suing the Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corporation, they need not go through the agency's hearings before filing suit in a court of law because the agency has adverse interests to the creditors (Coit Indep. Joint Venture v. FSLIC, 489 U.S. 561, 109 S. Ct. 1361, 103 L. Ed. 2d 602 [1989]).

Further readings

Mashaw, Jerry L., Richard A. Merrill, and Peter M. Shane. 1992. Administrative Law: The American Public Law System; Cases and Materials. 3d ed. St. Paul, Minn.: West.


Administrative Law and Procedure; Bureaucracy; Public Administrative Bodies; Regulation.


adj., adv. referring to the actions of an agency, board, or other government entity in which there are hearings, orders, judgments or other activities similar to those conducted by courts. Example: a public utilities hearing on setting telephone company rates is quasi-judicial. (See: judicial, quasi)


proceedings that seem judicial but that are conducted by a person other than a judge - or at least not in his or her judicial capacity.
References in periodicals archive ?
According to Competition Commission of Pakistan, it is an independent quasi-regulatory, quasi-judicial body that helps ensures healthy competition between companies for the benefit of the economy.
The new bill is expected to propose the establishment of a quasi-judicial body to settle disputes over compensation within six months, doing away with the practice of going to lower civil courts where cases routinely drag on for years.
The African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, a quasi-judicial body that reports to the AU, has been seeking to ban the death penalty in Africa since 1999 when it urged member states to declare a moratorium on capital punishment.
The second option is for an account-holder to approach the Settlement Commission (SC), a quasi-judicial body with powers to waive penalties and grant immunity from prosecution.
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Each planning committee meeting begins with the chairman, Peter Douglas Osborn, reading out a little homily about the committee being a quasi-judicial body where no decisions are taken beforehand.
Logan argued that the board is a quasi-judicial body not subject to a reorganization.
A quasi-judicial body set up to preserve the freedom of press and improve journalistic standards, the PCI has urged the government to hand over the penal powers to it.
But Romania's constitutional court ruled in April that ANI transgressed certain provisions of the constitution by being both an investigative agency and a quasi-judicial body.
Giving the board authority to routinely appeal or challenge the department's decisions would have created a quasi-judicial body that would have become enmeshed in labor disputes and created a bureaucratic nightmare.
After four weeks of hearings that concluded in late April, Residents and the Superior Aggregates Company were anticipating the quasi-judicial body to make a decision sometime in June on whether the Michipicoten Harbour development can commence operations.
She said the PUC, a quasi-judicial body, isn't in a position to offer opinions.

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