Internal complaints procedures and ombudsmen, in many ways the poor relations of tribunals and courts, have often been neglected in discussions of administrative justice. However, we know that far more people use internal complaints procedures than use tribunals and courts. The issues they deal with may range from the petty to the tragic but, to the people who make complaints, these issues are important and they may raise matters of fundamental significance to public services and the way they are run.
Although aspects of complaints procedures have always varied across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, devolution has brought about greater variation. Although this is potentially confusing, for the purposes of this chapter it offers us the opportunity to compare different approaches to similar problems and to consider the advantages and disadvantages that each of these brings.
Instead of attempting to describe this complexity, in all its glorious detail, this chapter sets out to show how recent policy developments reflect some of the inherent tensions in complaints procedures and ombudsmen schemes. Although there are considerable areas of overlap in the issues concerning the two mechanisms, it is useful to consider them separately, in traditional procedural terms, with internal complaints mechanisms at the bottom of a ‘pyramid’ and ombudsmen at the top. The final section will consider the relationship between the two mechanisms.
|Title of host publication||Administrative Justice in Context|
|Place of Publication||Oxford|
|Number of pages||26|
|Publication status||Published - 2010|
- administrative Justice