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Office of Administrative Hearings

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Rules & Laws

This page explains the rules that govern the OAH hearing process and the laws that more generally govern how OAH operates as an agency. If you are looking for laws and regulations that may apply to the disputed issues in your specific type of case, visit the Help page.

OAH Rules of Practice and Procedure

The OAH Rules explain the steps required to complete the OAH hearing process, from requesting a hearing to appealing a judge’s final decision. The OAH Rules are officially published in Title 1, Chapters 28 and 29 of the D.C. Municipal Regulations (DCMR).

Chapter 28 covers general procedures in all cases. Chapter 29 has special rules and procedures for specific case types, including public benefits cases, rental housing cases, unemployment benefits cases, public sector workers' compensation cases, and D.C. Public Schools cases.

When looking for rules that apply to your case, you should first check to see if your case type has any special rules in Chapter 29. If nothing in Chapter 29 applies to your case type or to the specific procedure you need information about, you should then look at the more general rules in Chapter 28.

You can find the official publication of the rules in the DCMR, available online through the D.C. Office of Documents and Administrative Issuances. You can also view the OAH Rules in searchable PDF format here:

In the PDF document, the "Document Outline" menu option has bookmarks for the Chapter 28 and Chapter 29 Tables of Contents. From each Table of Contents, you can click on the Section number or Title to go directly to that section.

Laws that govern how OAH operates

There are two main sources of laws that govern how OAH operates and the types of cases OAH may hear.

The first is the OAH Establishment Act. The D.C. Council passed this Act to create OAH and to establish OAH’s authority to hear certain types of cases. Among other things, the Establishment Act gives OAH “jurisdiction” over specific types of cases. Jurisdiction refers to a court’s authority to hear and decide cases. The Establishment Act also explains the authority and duties of OAH’s Administrative Law Judges. You can find the OAH Establishment Act in Title 2, Chapter 18A of the D.C. Code.

The second is the D.C. Administrative Procedure Act, which generally governs how all D.C. agencies must operate. As a D.C. agency, OAH creates rules and publications that generally apply to everyone going through the OAH hearing process, so OAH must comply with the Administrative Procedure Act when creating general rules and publications. OAH also hears contested cases between individual parties, so OAH must also follow the Administrative Procedure Act in these instances as well. You can find the Administrative Procedure Act in Title 2, Chapter 5, Subchapter I of the D.C. Code.

While the OAH Establishment Act and the D.C. Administrative Procedure Act are two main sources of laws that govern OAH operations, other laws may apply in some types of cases. For example, in cases at OAH involving civil fines, OAH may be subject to the Civil Infractions Act or the Litter Control Administration Act, depending on the type of case.

Laws and Rules that apply to the selection and tenure of Administrative Law Judges

OAH has over thirty Administrative Law Judges who hear and decide individual cases. OAH judges must meet specific qualifications and complete an appointment process.

The OAH Establishment Act explains the necessary qualifications for Administrative Law Judges. The Establishment Act also created the Commission on Selection and Tenure (COST) to conduct the appointment process. COST has authority to appoint, reappoint, discipline, and remove OAH Administrative Law Judges. Along with the OAH Establishment Act, COST regulations describe the qualifications for an Administrative Law Judge and the appointment process. You can find COST regulations in Title 6, Subtitle B, Chapter 37 of the D.C. Municipal Regulations. Notice of upcoming COST meetings is posted under the "Latest News" section of the OAH Home page, and you can view the minutes from past meetings on the COST Meetings page.

Besides meeting the qualifications in the OAH Establishment Act and the COST regulations, OAH Administrative Law Judges must also abide by the Code of Ethics for OAH Administrative Law Judges.

You can read about OAH’s current Administrative Law Judges on the Biographies page.