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New Validation Committee members appointed

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Press Release
Ombudsman Association
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The executive committee has appointed three independent members to the Association’s Validation Committee following a public call for expressions of interest.

Mary Seneviratne, Emeritus Professor of Law at the Nottingham Law School, and Margaret Doyle, Senior Research Officer for the UK Administrative Justice Institute (UKAJI), have both been reappointed. Chris Gill, Senior Lecturer in Administrative Justice and Programme Leader of the MSc in Dispute Resolution at Queen Margaret University has also been appointed.

Nick Bennett, the Association Vice Chair, who is the Chair of the Validation Committee said: “I’m delighted that we’ve been able to retain the experience of both Mary and Margaret and to add to their expertise with the appointment of Chris Gill. It is crucial that any applications for membership of the Association are reviewed by those with an independent and critical mind-set to ensure that the high standards we expect are maintained by our members. Now that a private sector company cannot use the title ‘ombudsman’ unless it is a member of the Ombudsman Association it is even more important that members of the public can be confident that our membership criteria are robustly applied. With the deep understanding that Mary, Margaret and Chris have of the ombudsman sector I am confident that this will continue to be the case.”

Ann Abraham, both a former Chair of the Association and the former Parliamentary & Health Service Ombudsman, had decided to step down as an independent member of the Validation Committee.

Lewis Shand Smith, the Chair of the Association, said: “I want to formally thank Ann for the time and effort she has put into the Validation Committee over the past 10 years, in various roles, but particularly in recent years as an independent member. The Executive, and the wider membership, are very grateful for the time she has given freely to share her expertise and to ensure the protection of the role of ombudsman schemes as the ‘best practice’ model for resolving complaints.”

Notes:

1. The objects of the Ombudsman Association are to:
a) Support and promote an effective system of complaint handling and redress in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Britain’s Crown Dependencies and Britain’s Overseas Territories.
b) Encourage, develop and protect the role of ombudsmen in both the public and private sectors as the ‘best practice’ model for resolving complaints, according recognition through membership.
c) Provide an authoritative voice and promote best practice and policy for those involved in complaint handling and redress to ensure an effective service for the public.
d) Support open and transparent accountability and endorse principles of good complaint handling.

2. The Association’s Rules (http://www.ombudsmanassociation.org/association-rules.php) state that a Validation Committee shall be appointed whose responsibility will be, amongst other things, to ‘Advise the Executive Committee on whether applications for Membership shall be approved’. The relevant paragraphs for appointing members of the Validation Committee are 9(b), (c) and (d):

9(b) The Validation Committee shall consist of the Vice-Chair of the Association, who shall be the Chair of the Validation Committee, one other Ombudsman Member of the Executive Committee and three independent non-ombudsman members. Members may be reappointed at the end of their year of office. Recommendations of the Validation Committee shall be decided by a simple majority of votes.
9(c) The independent members of the Validation Committee shall be chosen from among those who, in the opinion of the Executive Committee, represent the public interest; have knowledge of the Ombudsman function; are known to support it; and will make a relevant contribution to the work of the Validation Committee because of their particular skills and experience.
9(d) Ombudsman Members and Complaint Handler Members are not eligible for appointment as independent members of the Validation Committee.

3. The Association’s criteria for Ombudsman or Complaint Handler membership can be viewed here: http://www.ombudsmanassociation.org/docs/OA-Rules-Schedule-1.pdf and http://www.ombudsmanassociation.org/docs/OA-Rules-Schedule-2.pdf

4. Companies House guidance on incorporating a new company stipulates that one of the three criteria that must be met to use the term ‘ombudsman’ is that the company has been approved as meeting the Association’s criteria for Ombudsman Membership:
https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/418150/GP1_Incorporation_names_v5_4-ver0.29-4.pdf

5. It is envisaged that the three independent members will serve at least a two-year term to September 2017 (as per the Association’s Rules, formal re-appointment by the Executive Committee will be required after 1 year).

6. For more information please contact Donal Galligan, the Secretary of the Ombudsman Association on 020 8642 6143 or email secretary@ombudsmanassociation.org

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