Thursday, May 04, 2006

LGO raise the bar

The Local Government Ombudsman is empowered by statute to investigate complaints from members of the public who claim to have suffered injustice as a result of maladministration.

However, over the last few years the Ombudsman has started to introduce other words into their unique interpretation of the 1974 Act.

Words such as material and significant are now used to make it even more difficult for a complainant to meet the criteria for an investigation of their complaint. As a result the Ombudsman will now only investigate a complaint when the Ombudsman considers the complainant has suffered significant injustice.

However, here is what Crossman, Leader or the House of Commons had to say on the matter. : "We have not tried to define injustice by using such terms as `loss or damage'. These may have legal overtones which could be held to exclude one thing which I am particularly anxious shall remain – the sense of outrage aroused by unfair or incompetent administration, even where the complainant has suffered no actual loss. We intend that the outraged citizen…shall have the right to an investigation, even where he has suffered no loss or damage in the legal sense of those terms, but is simply a good citizen who has nothing to lose and wishes to clear up a sense of outrage and indignation at what he believes to be a maladministration."

Furthermore, if you read the case reports over the last thirty years you can quite clearly see that the bar has been raised and it is now much more difficult to prove you have suffered the level of injustice necessary to warrant an investigation than it used to be.

I find it rather ironic that an organisation, set up in 1974 to investigate complaints from members of the public who claim to have suffered injustice as a result of maladministration, now spend more time and effort doing the opposite of what the Government intended and Crossman expected.

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