Promoting independent complaint resolution

Principle features of an ombudsman scheme

ombudsman schemes exist to deal with complaints from ordinary citizens and consumers about most public bodies and some services in the private sector.

The services provided by ombudsman schemes are free of charge.

For the general public we provide information about the role of the ombudsman and where ombudsman schemes work and the areas they cover.

We provide more detailed information that might be of interest to professional working in the field of complaint handling, or to those involved in the establishment of new ombudsman schemes.

Here you will find the principle features of an ombudsman scheme and how they differ in the public and private sectors.

We also show the traditional methods of establishing schemes (voluntarily, by statute, and resulting from statute).

Also described in some detail are typical processes for complaint handling by businesses or bodies under the jurisdiction of ombudsman schemes, and by the ombudsman schemes themselves.

Finally, there is information about the accountability of ombudsman schemes in the public interest, and the basis of ombudsman schemes's decisions.

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Basic information

Detailed information

In the majority of cases, the principal features of an ombudsman scheme are:

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The Association has published:

The Association criteria cover:

These criteria are recognised by the Cabinet Office in its published guidance to government departments on ombudsman schemes.

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Consumer complaints

Please note: there are currently no ombudsman schemes for many areas of consumer goods and services.

For advice and information about consumer goods and services, you should contact:

In the UK:
Citizens Advice Consumer Service Tel. 0345 404 0506

In Ireland:
Citizens Information Board
Tel. 0761 07 4000

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