Hearing and Appeals Process
The following are the process steps if there are protests, denials, or complex issues with respect to a license application.
Appeal to ABC
Appeal to District Court
Appeal to CA Supreme Court
Division Office Review
The Division Office reviews all applications that are:
- Recommended for denial by the District Office
- Non-routine such as multilevel corporations and partnerships
Scheduling of Hearing
A hearing is scheduled in the following cases:
- When valid protests have been filed against an application and the applicant and protestant are not able to reach any agreements
- If ABC has denied the application, and the applicant requests a hearing
The hearing is scheduled within 60 days. ABC mails a Notice of Hearing to all parties.
A public hearing is held before an administrative law judge (ALJ). ABC counsel represents ABC. The applicant and any protestant(s) may be represented by an attorney or other person, or they can represent themselves at the hearing. The ABC investigator will testify as to his or her investigation. The applicant and any protestant(s) may testify and/or present other evidence. The protestant must appear at the hearing or the protest is abandoned.
Administrative Law Judge Proposed Decision
The ALJ has 30 days to prepare a Proposed Decision for consideration by the ABC Director.
Action by ABC Director
The ABC Director adopts or rejects the ALJ’s Proposed Decision. If the ABC Director rejects the Proposed Decision, ABC sends a Notice of Rejection to the applicant and any protestant(s). Each party has 30 days from the date of the notice to submit written argument.
Appeal to ABC Appeals Board
The applicant or any protestant(s) may appeal the Director’s Decision to the ABC Appeals Board within 40 days. The Board is a three-member panel appointed by the Governor.
ABC Appeals Board Decision
The Board reviews the record of the administrative hearing and accepts written or oral arguments. It may not accept any new evidence that was not offered at the administrative hearing. The Board usually makes a decision within 120 days.
Appeal to the District Court of Appeal
The applicant, any protestant(s) or ABC may appeal to the California District Court of Appeal (DCA) within 30 days of the Appeals Board Decision.
District Court of Appeal’s Decision
The DCA reviews the record and renders a decision. The Attorney General represents ABC at the hearing. There is no mandated time period for the DCA to render its decision.
Appeal to the California Supreme Court
The applicant, any protestant(s) or ABC may appeal to the California Supreme Court within 30 days of the DCA decision. The Attorney General represents ABC before the Supreme Court. There is no time mandated for the Supreme Court to render its decision.
California Supreme Court Decision
The California Supreme Court makes a decision to issue or deny the license.