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Writ of Administrative Mandamus Guide  

Last Updated: May 26, 2016 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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This guide is an introduction to the use of a Petition for Writ of Administrative Mandamus, also known a Writ for Administrative Mandate. It is not intended to be a comprehensive resource, and additional research will be necessary.

A Petition for a Writ of Administrative Mandamus is a request that a Superior Court review and reverse the final decision or order of an administrative agency. Administrative mandamus review can only be used when the agency’s decision is final and there are no further administrative appeals available. In other words, when you've "exhausted all administrative remedies."

Most writs challenge the decisions of state and local government agencies. However, this process may also be used to review the decisions of private organizations, such as private colleges and hospital boards, so long as the decision: 1) was final, and 2) resulted from a proceeding in which a hearing was legally required, and 3) evidence was required to be taken.

Certain agency decisions may not be challenged using a Petition for Writ of Administrative Mandamus. The law provides other methods for seeking judicial review of these agencies' decisions. The agencies include, but are not limited to:

  • The Public Utilities Commission
  • The Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control and its Appeal Board
  • The State Bar of California
  • The Workers Compensation Appeals Board
  • The Agricultural Labor Relations Board
  • The Public Employee Relations Board


Administrative mandate is not a reconsideration of the agency decision, but a judicial review procedure. It is not a trial.

Generally, the court will not accept new evidence, or rule on the merits of your case. Instead, the court may inquire into whether the agency acted in excess of its jurisdiction, made a serious error of law, or abused its discretion in determining the facts.

You may have a very brief window of time to file a petition, based on the statute of limitations governing the particular action. This period may be as short as 15 days or as long as four years.

Damages are typically not available in these proceedings. The only remedies available are to set aside the agency decision or remanding the matter back to the agency for reconsideration.

It is very important that you follow procedure carefully. This Guide will get you started, and refer you to resources which will assist you.


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