In most cases complaints will be made by the person who received the care or service complained about, or who has been affected by a decision made by a public service provider. This person is ‘the complainant’. In some cases, the complaint is made to the Ombudsman on behalf of the complainant. The person making the complaint on their behalf is known as that person’s representative.
Examples of representatives include:
In such cases, the Office of the Ombudsman may ask the complainant to complete a consent form. This form authorises the representative to act on their behalf, and provides authorisation from the complainant for this Office to discuss their complaint, and share their personal information, with their representative.
There are some exemptions from this rule.
For example, when handling complaints from public representatives we do not require a consent form as once the initial complaint is received, we engage mainly directly with the complainant rather than the public representative. Furthermore a copy of the decision in the case is only sent to the complainant directly and not to the public representative.
Also in some cases, such as when a third party contacts this Office with a complaint that a public service provider has not replied to a correspondence, this Office will ask the relevant public service provider to respond directly to the complainant. In such cases, this Office will not request consent from the complainant, as we as we do not require or seek a copy of the reply which will issue from the public service provider.
The Office may receive a complaint where the person directly affected does not have the capacity to consent to the complaint being made on their behalf. In such cases, the Office would look to get information about that person’s legal representative. This may include confirmation of power-of-attorney, enduring power of attorney or decision support arrangements registered under the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015, and Assisted Decision-Making Capacity (Amendment) Act 2022.
Sometimes a person who would otherwise have been entitled to make a complaint is deceased. In this case a complaint may be made by a person who, at the time of the action in relation to which the complaint is made, was a close relative, or carer of that person.
Be mindful that the services of this Office are free
Remember that your representative may be receiving private or confidential information about you
In cases where your representative will be involved in agreeing an outcome to your complaint it should be someone you trust to represent your best interests.