Volume 74, Number 3

June 1999

United States v. Chrysler: The Conflict Between Fair Warning and Adjudicative Retroactivity in D.C. Circuit Administrative Law

Kieran Ringgenberg

This Comment will analyze the fair warning rule in three Parts. Part I chronicles the Chrysler litigation. Part II summarizes the current state of the two competing doctrines of fair warning and retroactivity. Part III argues that the current articulation of the fair warning rule is overly broad in two ways. First, while the rule is rooted in due process, it now extends further than due process concerns warrant. The retroactivity rule, by contrast, more accurately balances the procedural concerns of regulated parties with the general public interest. Second, the overly broad fair warning rule creates perverse incentives for regulated parties and administrative agencies, incentives which ultimately call into question the rule’s efficacy at creating clear regulations and which hinder the efforts of agencies to pursue their statutory objectives effectively. The retroactivity rule, on the other hand, fosters cooperation between agencies and regulated parties by encouraging regulated parties to seek administrative clarifications of ambiguous regulations before disputes arise.