Essay by azsxdcfvCollege, UndergraduateA-, November 2014

download word file, 8 pages 0.0

An Ombudsman is a 'complaints man'; a person that people can go to who will investigate complaints of maladministration against public bodies. Their main purpose is to secure redress for injustice where an individual has been treated unfairly by the government. This is especially important when the individual has no choice but to deal with a public body. For example, in order to receive a passport, an individual must apply to the Home Office. There are no other legal avenues through which one can obtain one, therefore, there needs to be an effective complaints system in place. Once the reason for the maladministration has been identified, ombudsmen also take actions to ensure that the public body is aware of the mistake and therefore can learn a lesson from it, which they can apply in future cases. They also attempt to do these things in a way that avoids the cost and formality of court proceedings.

Ombudsmen will find instances of maladministration where injustice has occurred in the decision-making process. They are not concerned with the decision itself, only if the way in which it was reached is unjust. There is no legal definition of maladministration but there is a list of examples of what constitute it in the 'Crossman catalogue'. This includes things such as bias, delay and incompetence. This catalogue has recently been updated to include things that highlight the importance of the principles of good administration e.g. rudeness.

The principles of good administration that ombudsmen require from public bodies include i) acting in accordance with the law and with regard for the rights of those concerned, ii) being customer focused and easily accessible, iii) being open and accountable, iv) putting things right i.e. apologizing where necessary, and v) seeking continuous improvement (Elliott & Thomas, Public Law; 623). If...