This Factsheet is about the types of remedies that the Ombudsman can recommend. It should be read together with our ‘How to Complain’ webpage, available on the ‘Making A Complaint’ tab and our Factsheet “When you have a Legal Remedy available to you”.
The Ombudsman’s principle for remedy is that the body complained about should put the individual back in the position they would have been in, if the maladministration or poor service had not occurred.
The Ombudsman’s powers are restricted by law. One restriction is that we cannot investigate a complaint if a remedy exists by way of proceedings in a court of law. That is unless we are satisfied that it is unreasonable to expect you to resort to legal proceedings.
If you are mainly seeking financial compensation or any other remedy which a court action would provide, the Ombudsman may not be able to investigate your complaint.
The Ombudsman will ensure that the body complained about has had an opportunity to resolve the complaint in the first instance, before becoming involved.
If your complaint falls within the Ombudsman’s remit and we decide that it is appropriate for us to consider your complaint, we may:
The Ombudsman expects remedies to be fair and proportionate to a complainant’s injustice or hardship. The Ombudsman is keen to ensure that bodies within jurisdiction acknowledge failures and apologise for them, make amends, and use the opportunity to improve their services.
If the Ombudsman is satisfied that it is appropriate to investigate your complaint, (including cases where we have decided that it is not reasonable to expect you to take legal action against the public body) the range of remedies includes:
In most cases, an apology and explanation will be an appropriate and sufficient response. Financial redress will not be appropriate in most cases. Financial redress may be relevant where maladministration or service failure by the body complained about has caused you (or the person you are representing) a significant injustice. Although, as outlined above, the Ombudsman may consider that you have an alternative remedy reasonably available through the courts.
The Ombudsman’s role involves consideration of individual circumstances and the uniqueness of each case is taken account of in any decision made. The Ombudsman ensures that any financial redress recommended is fair and proportionate and takes account of similar cases and previous decisions made. The Ombudsman has a process in place to ensure oversight of decisions made.
The Ombudsman will only recommend a remedy where there has been maladministration or service failure by the body complained about which has caused you (or the person you are representing) an injustice. The Ombudsman will not recommend a remedy where the body has done nothing wrong or has not caused you any detriment.
While the Ombudsman will take your views into account in reaching a decision on what (if any) remedy to recommend, it is ultimately up to the Ombudsman to decide what is reasonable.