Ex Parte Communications
This page provides information about communications between decision-makers and interested persons, which are called ex parte communications.
On this page you can find:
These FAQ are general summary of the key aspects of the rules. To the extent that there is any inconsistency between this guide and Rules of Practice and Procedure, the Rules of Practice and Procedure govern.
Ex parte communications are governed by Article 8 of the Commission's Rules of Practice & Procedure, as mandated by Public Utilities Code §1701.1 et seq.
It is the responsibility of every person who transacts business with the Commission to abide by these rules. Violations of these rules are subject to sanctions, including fines and other penalties.
The rules governing ex parte communication generally depend on the category of the proceeding. The category of the proceeding is usually set out by the Assigned Commissioner in the scoping ruling (as posted on the proceeding's docket card, which is maintained on the Commission's website):
- Ex parte communications are prohibited in adjudicatory proceedings.
- Ex parte communications are permitted in ratesetting proceedings, subject to restrictions and reporting requirements.
- Ex parte communications are permitted in quasi-legislative proceedings without restrictions or reporting requirements.
Regardless of the category of the proceeding,
- Communications regarding categorization are permitted without restriction, but must be reported.
- Communications regarding particular ALJ or Commissioner assignments are prohibited.
Until the category of the proceeding has been determined, the applicable rules depend on the proceeding type:
- Complaints (proceedings with a number that beings with the letter "C") are treated as adjudicatory proceedings, and ex parte communications are prohibited, until the Commission categorizes the case in the Instructions to Answer. Then, the rules regarding that category apply.
- Applications (which begin with the letter "A") are treated as ratesetting proceedings, and ex parte communications are subject to restrictions and reporting requirements, until the Commission preliminarily categorizes the case. Then, the rules for that category of proceeding apply until the assigned Commissioner issues the final determination of category in the scoping memo, at which time the rules regarding that category apply.
- Rulemakings (which begin with the letter "R") are preliminarily categorized by the Commission in the order instituting the rulemaking, and the rules regarding that category apply until the assigned Commissioner issues the final determination of category in the scoping memo, at which time the rules regarding that category apply. Practitioners should note that the assigned Commissioner is permitted to establish special practices regarding ex parte communications in any scoping memo for an application or a rulemaking, and so a best practice is to review all issued scoping memos.
Ex parte communications are permitted in ratesetting proceedings as follows:
- Individual oral communications with a decisionmaker are permitted provided that 3 days' advance notice of the communication has been provided to the parties. In addition, if a decisionmaker (other than a Commissioner's personal advisor) grants an individual ex parte meeting, all other parties are afforded an opportunity to individually meet with the decisionmaker for a substantially equal period of time.
- Written communications must be concurrently served on all parties, and do not need to be reported. If a party or interested person sends a written communication that is not served on all parties to the affected proceeding(s) on the same day, a prohibited ex parte communication has occurred and must be reported immediately.
- Ex parte communications are generally banned from the date of a Ratesetting Deliberative Meeting, if any, through the date of the decision on the matter. Ratesetting Deliberative Meetings are noticed in the Daily Calendar.
Notice of ex parte communications must be filed no later than 3 working days after the communication, and must contain the following information:
- The date, time, and location of the communication, whether the communication was oral or written, or a combination of both, and the communication medium used.
- The identity of the decisionmaker, the identity of the person initiating the communication, and the identities of any other persons present.
- The topic of the communication, including applicable proceeding numbers.
- A substantive description of the interested person's communication and its content.
- A copy of any written material or text used during the communication.
Written ex parte communications must be concurrently served on all parties, and do not need to be reported. If a party or interested person sends a written communication that is not served on all parties to the affected proceeding(s) on the same day, a prohibited ex parte communication has occurred and must be reported immediately.
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