Section 9-6.14:17 of the Virginia Administrative Process Act sets forth two standards by which courts may review the validity of a state agency's decisions. In formal rulemaking and adjudicatory proceedings, the statute requires an agency to keep a record of all evidence it receives and to make decisions based on this record. Upon review, a court will look to see if there is "substantial evidence" in the record to support the agency's findings of fact. In informal rulemaking and adjudicatory proceedings, the statute does not require an agency to keep an evidentiary record. If the agency has not voluntarily made a record, the reviewing court will look at "the agency file, minutes, and records of its proceedings," and allow the agency to add more information or to prove facts in court if necessary to complete the impromptu record. In such a case, the court reviewing the agency's decision will only check to see "whether the result reached by the agency could reasonably be said, on all such proofs, to be within the scope of the legal authority of the agency."
Mary R. Carter,
Standards of Judicial Review in the Virginia Administrative Process Act,
U. Rich. L. Rev.
Available at: http://scholarship.richmond.edu/lawreview/vol30/iss3/8