§ 501 Investigations, inquiries or hearings by Commission, its members or representatives.
(a) Any investigation, inquiry or hearing which the Commission has power to undertake or hold may be undertaken or held by or before the Commission, or any member or representative of the Commission designated by it.
(b) All investigations, inquiries, or hearings before a Commissioner shall be and are deemed to be the investigations, inquiries and hearings of the Commission.
(c) Any determination or order of a Commissioner upon any such investigation, inquiry or hearing undertaken or held by him shall not become and be effective until approved and confirmed by at least a quorum of the Commission; and upon such confirmation, such determination or order shall be the determination or order of the Commission.
§ 502 Investigation, inquiry or hearing conducted by examiner.
In any investigation, inquiry or hearing, the Commission may designate any qualified officer or employee of the Commission as an examiner who may administer oaths, examine witnesses and receive evidence in any locality which the Commission, having regard to the public convenience and the proper discharge of its functions and duties, may designate. The testimony or evidence so taken or received shall have the same force and effect as if taken or received by the Commission, or by any one of the members thereof. Upon completion of such hearing or the taking of such testimony and evidence, the examiner shall submit to the Commission his findings and recommendations thereon, which findings and recommendations shall be considered by the Commission and such action taken with respect thereto by the Commission as it decides to be proper.
§ 503 Rules governing conduct of hearings; findings and order.
(a) All hearings before the Commission, or its designated representative, shall be public, and shall be conducted in accordance with the rules of practice and procedure prescribed by the Commission. In the conduct of such hearings, the Commission shall not be bound by the technical rules of evidence. A full and complete record shall be kept of all proceedings had before the Commission, or its representative, in any formal hearing, and all testimony shall be either recorded or taken down by a reporter designated by the Commission, and a verbatim transcript prepared and the parties shall be entitled to be heard in person or by attorney, and to introduce evidence.
(b) After the conclusion of the hearing, the Commission shall make and file its findings with its opinion, if any, and its order thereon. Its findings shall be in sufficient detail to enable the court on appeal to determine the controverted question presented by the proceeding, and whether proper weight was given to the evidence.
§ 504 Compelling attendance of witnesses and production of documents; oaths; subpoenas.
(a) The Commission may compel the attendance of witnesses and the production of tariffs, contracts, papers, books, accounts and all other documents.
(b) Any member of the Commission, or any examiner or employee designated by it, may administer oaths to all witnesses who may be called before the Commission, any member thereof, or any examiner, as the case may be.
(c) Subpoenas issued by the Commission shall be signed by a member thereof or an examiner designated by it and attested by the secretary, and may be served by any sheriff, deputy sheriff, constable, or any employee of the Commission and return thereof made to the Commission.
§ 505 Witness fees and mileage.
The fees and mileage of witnesses required to attend before the Commission shall be computed at the rate allowed to witnesses in the Superior Court, such fees to be paid when the witness is excused from further attendance. The disbursement made in payment of such fees shall be audited and paid in the same manner provided for the payment of expenses of the Commission. No witness subpoenaed at the instance of parties other than the Commission shall be entitled to compensation from the State for attendance or travel unless the Commission certifies that the testimony was material to the matter investigated.
§ 506 Refusal to obey subpoena, answer question or produce documents; contempt.
If a person subpoenaed to attend before the Commission, any member or examiner thereof, fails to obey the command of such subpoena without reasonable cause, or if a person in attendance before the Commission, any member or examiner thereof, refuses without lawful cause to be examined or to answer a legal or pertinent question, or to produce a book or paper when ordered to do so by the Commission, any member or examiner thereof, the Commission or any member thereof may apply to the Superior Court in and for the county where such hearing or investigation is being held or any Judge thereof in vacation, who shall have the power of the Court for such purpose, for an order returnable in not less than 2 nor more than 10 days, directing such person to show cause before the Court, or any Judge thereof in vacation, why he should not comply with the subpoena or order of the Commission. Upon the return of such order, the Court or Judge before whom the matter comes on for hearing, shall examine under oath the persons whose testimony may be relevant, and such person shall be given an opportunity to be heard, and if the Court or Judge determines that the person refused without legal excuse to obey the command of such subpoena or to be examined, or to answer a legal or pertinent question, or to produce a book or paper which he was ordered to produce, the Court or Judge may order such person to comply forthwith with the subpoena or order of the Commission, and any failure to obey such order of the Court or Judge may be punished by the Court or Judge as a contempt of the Superior Court.
§ 507 Privilege against self-incrimination.
No person shall be excused from testifying or producing any book, document or paper in any investigation or inquiry by or upon hearing before the Commission, or any member or examiner thereof, upon the ground that the testimony, evidence, book, document or paper required of such person may tend to incriminate such person or subject such person to penalty, or forfeiture, but no person shall be prosecuted, punished, or subjected to any penalty or forfeiture for or on account of any act, transaction, matter or thing concerning which he shall, under oath, have testified or produced incriminating evidence. No person so testifying shall be exempt from prosecution or punishment for any perjury committed by such person in his testimony. Nothing contained in this section is intended to give, or shall be construed in any manner to give any corporation immunity of any kind.
§ 508 Depositions of witnesses.
The Commission, or any party to proceedings before the Commission, may cause the deposition of witnesses residing within or without this State to be taken in the same manner as prescribed by law or by rules of the Superior Court for taking depositions in civil actions.
§ 509 Effective date and service of orders.
(a) Every order made by the Commission shall be served upon the person or public utility affected thereby, within 10 days from the time the order is filed, by personally delivering or sending by certified mail a certified copy thereof to the person to be affected thereby, or in case of a public utility to any officer or agent thereof upon whom a summons may be served in accordance with the provisions of the law of this State, or to the person designated by such public utility to accept service as provided in this chapter. In any proceeding in which such person or public utility shall be represented by an attorney, service may be made upon such attorney of record.
(b) All orders of the Commission shall become effective within such reasonable time as it prescribes.
§ 510 Appeal from Commission's order.
(a) Any public utility affected by any final order made by the Commission, or any other original party to or any intervenor in the proceedings before the Commission in which such order was entered and affected thereby, may appeal from such order to the Superior Court within 30 days from the date upon which such order is served. The appeal shall be filed with the Prothonotary of the Court and summons in the appeal shall be served upon the secretary of the Commission either personally or sent by certified mail to the office at Dover, Delaware, and shall be served upon all other parties to the proceeding below, other than the appellant.
(b) The appeal shall not be a trial de novo but shall be based upon the record before the Commission.
(c) The scope of review before the Court shall be that the Commission's findings shall be upheld if they are supported by sufficient evidence, free of error of law and not arbitrary or capricious. When factual issues are reviewed the Court shall take due account of the presumption of official regularity and the quasi-legislative function and specialized competence of the Commission.
§ 511 Stay pending appeal.
The filing of an appeal from any order of the Commission shall in no case supersede or stay the order of the Commission, unless the Superior Court so directs, and the appellant may be required by the Court to give bond in such form and of such amount as the Court, allowing the stay, requires.
§ 512 Settlements are to be encouraged.
(a) Insofar as practicable, the Commission shall encourage the resolution of matters brought before it through the use of stipulations and settlements.
(b) The Commission's staff may be an active participant in the resolution of such matters.
(c) The Commission may upon hearing approve the resolution of matters brought before it by stipulations or settlements whether or not such stipulations or settlements are agreed to or approved by all parties where the Commission finds such resolutions to be in the public interest.