Here is what we do after we receive your complaint about a public body:

First steps

We will make some checks to confirm that

  • your complaint is about a subject and a public body that we can look at
  • you have already complained to that public body (or used your right of appeal)  
  • the public body has responded to your original complaint
  • you have complained to us in time (usually 12 months)
  • we have enough information to start our investigation of your complaint
  • we have consent, if this complaint is on behalf of another person.

This usually takes one to four weeks.

What happens next?

If we think we can look at your complaint, one of our caseworkers will then contact you and will explain the steps that they will take. They may also collect information from both yourself and the public body you have complained about in order to investigate your complaint. This may include relevant personal information including financial or medical information. When they have completed this, they will contact you to let you know the outcome. This may be by phone or in writing.

How long will it take?

We investigate complaints as speedily as possible. The time taken to investigate your complaint will depend on how complex it is. In around 75% of cases we usually make a decision on a complaint in less than 3 months.  In around 90% of cases we reach our decision within 6 months. More complex cases can take longer.

Will the Ombudsman uphold my complaint?

The Ombudsman upholds or partially upholds complaints in around 30% of cases. In another 20% of cases we provide some form of assistance, for example, a better explanation from the public body.

What does the Ombudsman do? 

The Ombudsman is independent of government. Our caseworkers investigate complaints in an impartial way. This means that we are fair to both the person making the complaint and the public body that you have complained about. You can find out more in our short information video on our website

Will you keep me updated?

Yes. We will keep you updated on the progress of our investigation of your complaint.


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