Appalachian Power Co. v. State Tax Dep't of West Virginia
In Appalachian Power Co. v. State Tax Dep't of West Virginia, 195 W. Va. 573, 466 S.E.2d 424 (1995), the Court undertook to define the standard governing judicial review of an agency's construction of a statute that the agency was charged by law with administering.
As a starting point, the Court noted in Syllabus Point 1 of Appalachian Power that "interpreting a statute or a regulation presents a purely legal question subject to de novo review."
This point was qualified, however, by a recognition that "an inquiring court--even a court empowered to conduct de novo review--must examine a regulatory interpretation of a statute by standards that include appropriate deference to agency expertise and discretion." 195 W.Va. at 582, 466 S.E.2d at 433.