An ombudsman is a person that investigates complaints against certain institutions and organisations. People can call upon an ombudsman when they have not been able to resolve their complaint by complaining directly to the organisation in question. Contacting the ombudsman is often a successful alternative to taking a case to court.
What do Ombudsmen do?
All ombudsmen are impartial bodies and are neither connected to the government nor the companies it investigates. They are expected to be impartial at all times and their services come free of charge.
There are various ombudsmen in the UK which oversee different domains. The most prominent ombudsmen in the UK are:
- Financial Ombudsman
- Legal Ombudsman
- Property Ombudsman
- Local Government Ombudsman
- Energy Ombudsman
- Pensions Ombudsman
- Independent Police Complaints Commission
- Furniture Ombudsman
- Parliamentary and Health Services Ombudsman
- European Ombudsman
In order to take your case to the ombudsman you must first complain to the company in question first, using their official complaints procedure if possible — the ombudsman will only intervene is not able to be resolved by these measures.
If the ombudsman finds a complaint to be valid, it will advise the organisation on how to put things right. An ombudsman cannot force their judgement upon an organisation, but their advice is complied with in most cases.
Ombudsmen will investigate cases where the actions (or lack of action) of an organisation have resulted in a personal injustice, hardship or financial loss. Ombudsmen will not investigate a decision by an organisation just because you do not agree with it.
Most ombudsmen provide an application form for submitting a complaint; however, it is not mandatory to use this. You may wish to have the following information ready when you contact the ombudsman:
- your address (or the address of the complainant if it is not you)
- the name and address of the company the complaint is being made about
- details of the complaint and what personal injustice, hardship or financial loss was suffered
- what the organisation should do
- how the complaint was handled by the organisation
- the date when you first discovered the issue in question.
If you need to contact a specific ombudsman, use the navigation bar at the top of the page to find your ombudsman and get started.