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California Administrative Law: Introduction

This guide provides an overview for researching California administrative or regulatory law in the UCLA Law Library. This guide covers finding, updating and tracking regulations, as well as agency decisions and rulings.

Additional Research Assistance in California Administrative Law

For a more in-depth treatment of California Administrative Law, consult:

Chapter 8 of Henke’s California Law Guide, 8th ed., Daniel Martin (LexisNexis, 2006) KFC 74 .M37 2006 (Reference & Reserve).

Important Note About Access to Databases

Be sure to read the Access to Databases Guide carefully before beginning your research.

Introduction

In California, the term administrative law (also known as regulatory law) refers to the body of law created by the California executive and administrative agencies. Executive departments are established or authorized by the California Constitution. Administrative agencies may be established directly by the Constitution (Public Utilities Commission) or be created by or have authority delegated to them from the legislature. Agencies may sometimes be called Commissions or Boards.

Agencies have quasi-legislative power. Quasi-legislative enactments are generally referred to as regulations or rules. Agencies also have quasi-judicial power and may issue advisory opinions. The terminology for the adjudicatory functions (decisions in disputes) and advisory functions varies from agency to agency; they are typically referred to as decisions or opinions but may also be called orders.

The California Administrative Procedure Act (Cal. Gov’t. Code § 11340 et seq.) outlines the powers and boundaries of the administrative functions, as well as setting up an Office of Administrative Law to oversee the “orderly review of adopted regulations.” The Office of Administrative Law has the power to reject proposed regulations that they feel do not meet the standards set out in the Administrative Procedure Act, usually on grounds that they do not meet the requirements of notice, necessity, consistency, or clarity. 

LOOSELEAF SERVICES:  Looseleafs can pull together in one place relevant statutes, implementing agency regulations, court decisions and administrative adjudications on a narrow topic. In contrast to the federal regulatory field, there are only a handful of topical loose-leaf services devoted to California regulatory fields, primarily in the areas of taxation and labor. Loose-leaf services devoted to California regulatory topics are updated at varying frequencies; generally, they are not updated as often as the federal administrative looseleaf services.