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Primary jurisdiction doctrine

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Overview Edit

Under the primary jurisdiction doctrine, “a court is ‘obliged to defer’ to an agency where the ‘issue brought before a court is in the process of litigation through procedures originating in the [agency].’”[1]

“The question of whether an issue is within [an] agency’s primary jurisdiction is different from the question of whether the agency actually has exclusive statutory jurisdiction to resolve an issue.”[2] Specifically, for an issue to fall within an agency’s primary jurisdiction, the agency need not possess definite authority to resolve it; rather, there need only be “sufficient statutory support for administrative authority . . . that the agency should at least be requested to . . . proceed[]” in the first instance.[3] “[D]etermination of the agency’s primary jurisdiction involves a . . . pragmatic evaluation of the advantages and disadvantages of allowing the agency to resolve an issue in the first instance.”[4]

References Edit

  1. Federal Power Comm’n v. Louisiana Power & Light Co., 406 U.S. 621, 647 (1972)(full-text).
  2. 2 Richard J. Pierce, Jr., Administrative L. Treatise §14.1, at 1162 (5th ed. 2010).
  3. Ricci v. Chicago Mercantile Exch., 409 U.S. 289, 304, 300 (1973)(full-text) (holding that a dispute fell within the Commodity Exchange Commission’s primary jurisdiction where the Commodity Exchange Act “at least arguably protected or prohibited” the conduct at issue).
  4. Pierce, id.

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