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Office of Administrative Law Judges
Rules of Practice and Procedure for Administrative Hearings Before the Office of Administrative Law Judges, 29 C.F.R. Part 18

In General

The Part 18 Rules are the baseline rules of practice in proceedings before the Office of Administrative Law Judges. Litigants, however, should also consult the procedural rules governing the matter in litigation for more specific rules. Where programmatic rules are inconsistent with Part 18, the programmatic rule governs. See 29 C.F.R. 18.1(a).

The text of 29 C.F.R. Part 18 is available at:

Regulatory History of OALJ's Rules of Practice and Procedure

  • Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, Rules of Practice and Procedure for Hearings Before the Office of Administrative Law Judge, 77 Fed. Reg.72141 (Dec. 4, 2012) PDF

  • Final Rule, Use of Settlement Judges in Longshore and Related Proceedings Before the Office of Administrative Law Judges, 64 Fed. Reg. 47087 (Aug. 27, 1999) HTML | PDF

  • Final Rule, Amendment of Filing and Service Requirements in Proceedings Before the Office of Administrative Law Judges, 60 Fed. Reg. 26970 (May 19, 1995) HTML

  • Interim Final Rule, Amendment of Filing and Service Requirements in Proceedings Before the Office of Administrative Law Judges, 59 Fed. Reg. 41874 (Aug. 15, 1994) HTML

  • Final Rule, Use of Settlement Judges in Proceedings Before the Office of Administrative Law Judges, 58 Fed. Reg. 38498 (July 16, 1993) HTML

  • Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, Use of Settlement Judges in Proceedings Before the Office of Administrative Law Judges, 58 Fed. Reg. 3822 (Jan. 11, 1993) HTML

  • For earlier regulatory history, see the Note on Regulatory History of Rules below.


Related Laws and Rules:


Administrative Review Board:

Secretary's Order 02-2012 replaced Secretary's Order 01-2010, effective October 19, 2012. Secretary's Order 01-2012 is similar to the order it replaces and is mainly an update of statutory and regulatory authority citations.

  • Secretary's Order 02-2012, Delegation of Authority and Assignment of Responsibility to the Administrative Review Board, 77 Fed. Reg. 69377 (Nov. 16, 2012) (effective Oct. 19, 2012) PDF

Secretary's Order 01-2010 replaced Secretary's Order 1-2002, effective January 15, 2010. Secretary's Order 01-2010 is similar to the order it replaces. It updates statutory and regulation citations, and creates and a Vice-Chair position. The Vice Chair position is authorized to maintain and operate the Board during a Chair's absence or vacancy, and is delegated responsibility for operational management of the Board.

  • Secretary's Order 01-2010, Delegation of Authority and Responsibility to the Administrative Review Board, 75 Fed. Reg. 3924 (Jan. 25, 2010) (effective Jan. 15, 2010) HTML | PDF

Secretary's Order 1-2002 replaced Secretary's Order 02-96, effective September 24, 2002. Secretary's Order 1-2002 is similar to the order it replaces, except it increases the total maximum membership of the Board from four to five, and clarifies ARB procedural authority and further delineates the authority and responsibilities of the Secretary.

  • Secretary's Order 1-2002, Delegation of Authority and Responsibility to the Administrative Review Board, 67 Fed. Reg. 64272 (Oct. 17, 2002) HTML | PDF

Effective May 3, 1996, the Administrative Review Board replaced the Office of Administrative Appeals, the Wage Appeals Board and the Board of Service Contract Appeals. The Administrative Review Board is designated to issues final agency decisions under a number of laws where such decisions were previously issued by the Secretary of Labor.

  • Secretary's Order 2-96 (Authority and Responsibilities of the Administrative Review Board), 61 Fed. Reg. 19978 (1996)
  • Final Rule Establishing Adminstrative Review Board, 61 Fed. Reg. 19982 (1996)


Benefits Review Board:

The Benefits Review Board's rules of practice and procedure are found in 20 C.F.R. Part 802.

See also


Note on Regulatory History of Rules

The Rules of Practice and Procedure were first published as a final rule in 1983. 48 Fed. Reg. 32538 (July 15, 1983). Although there is a short preamble explaining that the purpose of the rules is to ensure that proceedings before Department ALJs are as uniform as possible, the rules were not subject to notice and comment pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 553(d), and a detailed regulatory history for the original rules does not exist. It is fair to state, however, that the rules are modeled on the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, but adjusted for hearings in the administrative context.

A number of minor technical amendments were made to the Rules in 1984. 49 Fed. Reg. 2739 (Jan. 20, 1984).

In 1989, a set of proposed Rules of Evidence were published for notice and comment, 54 Fed. Reg. 2310 (Jan. 19, 1989), with a Final Rule published in 1990. 55 Fed. Reg. 2 (Apr. 9, 1990). These rules are modeled on the Federal Rules of Evidence, but modified for formal adversarial adjudicatory proceedings. The rules are intended to provide necessary guidance as to the admissibility of evidence in such proceedings, and include extensive Reporter's Notes. The Rules of Evidence do not apply if they are inconsistent with a statute, regulation, or executive order. 29 C.F.R. § 18.1101(c). Nor do the Rules of Evidence apply to black lung benefits or longshore workers' compensation proceedings. 29 C.F.R. § 18.1101(b).

In 1991, an amendment was made to reflect a change in address of the Office of Administrative Law Judges. 56 Fed. Reg. 54708 (Oct. 22, 1991).

In 1993, an amendment was made to permit the use of settlement judges as a means of alternative dispute resolution. 58 Fed. Reg. 3822 (Jan. 11, 1993) (proposed rule); 58 Fed. Reg. 38498 (July 16, 1993) (final rule). This amendment was modeled on Recommendation 88-5 of the Administrative Conference of the United States, 1 C.F.R. § 305.88-5 and the settlement judge procedure of other federal agencies.

In 1994, an Interim Final Rule was published to amend certain filing and service requirements. 59 Fed. Reg. 41874 (Aug. 15, 1994). Essentially, these amendments (1) provided rules limiting the use of fax machines to file documents to instances when faxes are explicitly permitted by statute or regulation or the presiding ALJ, and (2) eliminated the routine filing of discovery documents. Although not amendments to Part 18, several other Departmental regulations were updated to permit the use of fax or overnight courier as an alternative to use of a telegram when requesting a hearing in certain time sensitive proceedings.

In 1995, the filing and service amendments were adopted as a Final Rule. 60 Fed. Reg. 26970 (May 19, 1995). The Final Rule made only one change to the Interim Final Rule to conform it to practice in the United States District Courts. Specifically, if a party is represented by an attorney or other representative, only the attorney or representative is served unless direct service is ordered by the presiding ALJ. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 5(b); 29 C.F.R. § 18.3(b) (as amended by this Final Rule). It should be noted that this service amendment applies only to service by a party; it does not change the ALJ's obligation to serve both parties and their representatives, unless the parties waive personal service.

In 1999, a Final Rule was published amending the settlement judge rule at section 18.9(e) to permit the appointment of settlement judges in cases arising out of the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act, 33 U.S.C. 901 et seq., the Defense Base Act, the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, the Nonappropriated Fund Instrumentalities Act, and the former District of Columbia Workmen's Compensation Act. 64 Fed. Reg. 47087 (Aug. 27, 1999).

On December 4, 2012, the Department of Labor published proposed revisions to the Rules of Practice and Procedure for Hearings Before the Office of Administrative Law Judges. In this proposed rule, the Department of Labor proposes to revise and reorganize the Rules of Practice and Procedure for Administrative Hearings Before the Office of Administrative Law Judges, 29 C.F.R. Part 18. The current OALJ Rules of Practice and Procedure were promulgated in 1983 and were modeled on the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP). The proposed OALJ Rules of Practice and Procedure are intended to be more accessible and useful to parties; to harmonize administrative hearing procedures with the current FRCP; and to reflect the types of claims now heard by OALJ.

Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

On December 4, 2012, the Department of Labor published for Notice and Comment, proposed revisions to the Rules of Practice and Procedure for Hearings Before the Office of Administrative Law Judges, 29 C.F.R. Part 18.

The text of the proposed rules is available from www.federalregister.gov and www.regulations.gov.