Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies Law & Legal Definition


Before seeking a Judicial Review in the U.S. Courts, a litigant must exhaust all administrative remedies. An aggrieved party should pursue all administrative remedies before filing a lawsuit in civil court to resolve the disagreement. When all other available remedies are exhausted, then a party can proceed for filing a law suit.

Generally, all the administrative agencies have their own experienced and specialized personnel to sort any disputes arising under their jurisdiction. Apart from this, the doctrine of Separation of Powers requires an agency to carry out its functions and duties independently without any influence or interference from the judiciary. Therefore, any dispute or grievance arising under an agency should be first brought within their purview. Still if the dispute is not decided or either of the parties is not satisfied with the decision, then they cam appeal to a higher tribunal. For example, a state prisoner cannot obtain federal habeas corpus without exhausting the available state remedies. Another example is: according to 10 CFR 1040.89-13 an aggrieved party may file a civil action following the exhaustion of administrative remedies under the Department of Energy. 10 CFR 1040.89-13 reads as follows:

§ 1040.89-13 Exhaustion of administrative remedies.

(a) A complainant may file a civil action following the exhaustion of administrative remedies under the Act. Administrative remedies are exhausted if:

(1) One hundred eighty (180) days have elapsed since the complainant filed the complaint and DOE has made no findings with regard to the complainant; or

(2) DOE issues any findings in favor of the recipient.

(b) If DOE fails to make a finding within 180 days or issues a finding in favor of the recipient, the Director, Office of Civil Rights and Diversity, will:

(1) Promptly advise the complainant of this fact; and

(2) Advise the complainant of his or her right to bring a civil action for injunctive relief; and

(3) Inform the complainant:

(i) That the complainant may bring a civil action only in a United States District Court for the district in which the recipient is located or transacts business;

(ii) That a complainant prevailing in a civil action has the right to be awarded the costs of the action, including reasonable attorney fees, but that the complainant must demand these costs in the complaint;

(iii) That, before commencing the action, the complainant shall give 30 days notice, by registered mail, to the Secretary of DOE, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, the Attorney General of the United States, and the recipient;

(iv) That the notice must state: the alleged violation of the Act and these regulations; the relief requested; the court in which the complainant is bringing the action; and whether or not attorney fees are demanded in the event the complainant prevails; and

(v) That the complainant may not bring an action if the same alleged violation of the Act by the same recipient is the subject of a pending action in any court of the United States.

The doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies does not apply in federal civil rights action. There are so many exceptions available to the doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies, thereby making it a confusing doctrine.