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Public Law

Public Law (3rd edn)

John Stanton and Craig Prescott
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date: 29 February 2024

p. 60116. Ombudsmenlocked

p. 60116. Ombudsmenlocked

  • John StantonJohn StantonSenior Lecturer in Law at The City Law School, City, University of London
  •  and Craig PrescottCraig PrescottLecturer in Law, Bangor University


This chapter discusses the role and work of the Parliamentary Ombudsman (‘Ombudsman’). The Ombudsman investigates complaints of maladministration that members of the public allege they have received from government departments. The chapter beings by considering the constitutional position of the Ombudsman, explaining how originally the Ombudsman was seen as a servant of the House of Commons, filling a gap left by traditional forms of government accountability provided by MPs who taken together lack the capability to investigate thousands of individual cases. The chapter outlines the procedures of the Ombudsman as provided for the Parliamentary Commissioner Act 1967, including the MPs filter, and how meaning of maladministration has developed in recent decades into ‘principles of good administration’. If the Ombudsman finds that maladministration has occurred in a particular case, then they can make a recommendation as to what the relevant government department can do to remedy the situation. If the government department does not accept the Ombudsman’s recommendation, then the Ombudsman can bring the matter to the attention of the House of Commons by laying a special report. This reflects how ultimately, the Ombudsman is part of the political, rather than legal process.

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