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Down Goes Deference

For decades, Wisconsin courts afforded deference to administrative agencies’ interpretations of law. As I previously wrote about in the Wisconsin Law Journal, The Wisconsin Supreme Court essentially ended this practice in its Tetra Tech EC, Inc. v. DOR decision: “We have also decided to end our practice of deferring to administrative agencies’ conclusions of law.”

In the wake of this decision, the Wisconsin legislature recently amended the statutes concerning agency review to comport with this decision. Among other things, under Wis. Stat. §227.57 the legislature created Wis. Stat. §227.57(11) which reads: “Upon review of an agency action or decision, the court shall accord no deference to the agency’s interpretation of law.” Similarly, under Wis. Stat. §227.10 the legislature created Wis. Stat. §227.10(2g) which reads: “No agency may seek deference in any proceeding based on the agency’s interpretation of any law.”

Given the decision in Tetra Tech and the change in statute we may see more challenges (and potentially successful challenges) to agency decisions.

About the Author

Barret Van Sicklen is an attorney practicing out of our Madison office. He is a member of the Labor & Employment Relations, Litigation, and Real Estate & Land Use practice groups. Contact Barret by email or by phone at (608) 252-9386.

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