What public bodies can I complain about?
You can complain to the Ombudsman about:
- Government Departments,
- Local Authorities,
- the Health Service Executive (HSE),
- agencies, such as charities and voluntary bodies, that deliver health and social services on behalf of the HSE,
- An Post
- all public bodies covered by the Disability Act 2005.
What public bodies can I not complain about?
You cannot complain to the Ombudsman about:
- the courts,
- An Garda Síochána,
- the Employment Appeals Tribunal or Labour Court,
- the defence forces,
- the Director of Consumer Affairs, or
- the Adoption Board.
What complaints can I make to the Ombudsman?
You can complain to the Ombudsman about a public body, if it:
- delays providing services,
- refuses to award a benefit or service,
- fails to provide a promised service,
- fails to follow approved procedures,
- causes communication difficulties,
- makes unfair decisions,
- gives misleading advice,
- is rude, or
- fails to correct mistakes.
Under the Ombudsman Act, the Ombudsman examines all issues involving ‘maladministration’, which includes any action that:
- is taken without proper authority,
- is taken on irrelevant grounds,
- results from negligence or carelessness,
- is based on incorrect or incomplete information,
- discriminates improperly,
- is based on administrative practice that is not acceptable, or
- goes against fair or sound administration.
What can I not complain about?
You cannot make a complaint if:
- you have begun legal action relating to it,
- you have a right of appeal to the courts or to an independent appeal body, such as An Bord Pleanála,
- the action you complain about relates to national security,
- it relates to recruitment or terms and conditions of employment, it relates to the operation of the law on foreign nationals or naturalisation,
- it relates to the running of the prisons,
- it relates to the ‘reserved functions’ of local authorities, such as those carried out by elected representatives,
- it relates to the clinical judgement of doctors, or
- it relates to private companies or individuals or private practitioners such as dentists, opticians and pharmacists.
Who can complain?
Anyone can make a complaint. You can complain on your own behalf or for someone else if they ask you to. You can make a complaint as an individual or as a public representative, business or organisation.
How much does it cost to make a complaint and have it investigated?
Nothing, the service is free.
When should I complain?
Before you complain to the Ombudsman, you must try and solve your problem with the public body concerned. If they have an appeals process, please use this first. If this does not resolve the problem and you feel that the public body has not treated you fairly, then contact the Ombudsman.
Make your complaint as soon as possible. You should complain within 12 months of:
- the decision or action taken by the public body, or
- the date of the decision of their complaints or appeals process.
When you make a complaint, try to give the Ombudsman as much information as possible, including copies of any letters or e-mails and reference numbers.
How will the Office of the Ombudsman deal with my complaint?
Firstly the Ombudsman makes sure that they can deal with your complaint. Then they may ask the public body concerned to send them a report. If they need to, they may examine their files and records and question officials. It can take time to gather the information that the Ombudsman needs.
The Ombudsman will then decide whether:
- your complaint is valid, and
- you have suffered due to the action or decision of the public body.
If the Ombudsman decides that you have suffered, and the public body has not taken steps to put this right, they may recommend that it does so. They may ask the body to:
- review what it has done,
- change its decision and/or,
- offer you:
- an explanation,
- an apology, and/or
- financial compensation.
In most cases, the Ombudsman handles the complaint in an informal way. They may discuss the problem directly with the public body or examine the relevant files. In more complex cases, they may need to carry out a detailed investigation.
How long will it take for the Ombudsman to deal with my complaint?
It is not possible to say exactly how long it will take. The time it takes them to reach a decision will vary from case to case, depending on how complicated it is. For example, it can take longer if the Ombudsman needs to meet with officials from the public body concerned.
The Ombudsman will keep in touch with you to let you know what they are doing with your complaint and do their best to resolve it as quickly as possible.
How do I complain?
Tel: 01 639 5600
Complaints email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Office of the Ombudsman
6 Earlsfort Terrace,