Last session the Virginia General Assembly amended Virginia Code Sec. 2.2-4027 addressing judicial review of administrative decision. Those changes go into effect on July 1, 2013. The two key changes are: 1) removal of the prior “reasonable basis” standard, and changing it to determination whether there was substantial evidence in the agency record to support the agency’s decision; and 2) adding de novo (fresh) review of issues of law.
Further, the amendment provides for a court to augment the agency record in whole or in part upon motion of any party. Whether this will substantively affect judicial review is a matter of debate among practitioners. However, it would seem, at the least, to provide greater opportunity for courts to challenge agency decisions and, if nothing else, not feel required to give as great deference to the findings of agencies.