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Press release

Ombudsman Case Law Database launched

Donal Galligan
Donal Galligan
Chief Executive, OA
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The Ombudsman Association (OA) has today published the Case Law Database which for the first time collates in one place all the case law about our members, including decisions made in cases where there has been a full hearing through judicial review or statutory hearing. The website also helpfully collates all the relevant legislation for the ombudsman sector alongside weblinks to the different ombudsman schemes’ websites.

The website is the culmination of a long-held desire of the OA’s Legal Interest Group to make this information more accessible and was achieved through an innovative collaboration with Dr Richard Kirkham, who secured funding from the Nuffield Foundation to research and compile the case law in the ombudsman sector.

Katrin Shaw, Chair of the Legal Interest Group, said, “I’m delighted that we are now able to launch this and am extremely grateful to Dr Kirkham for helping make this a reality. The Case Law Database will assist members of the Legal Interest Group to keep abreast of developments across the ombudsman sector and to share the learning from those cases in order to improve the service each ombudsman provides.”

Nick Bennett, Chair of the Ombudsman Association, added, “Transparency and accountability are key aspects of our membership criteria. It is already a requirement for our members to include information about any legal challenges, or complaints received about the service they’ve provided, in their annual reports. In collating all the publicly available information on judicial reviews and statutory hearings about our members in one place, the Case Law Database will provide a useful resource for stakeholders, academics, and members of the public alike, and reinforce the ombudsman community’s commitment to transparency and accountability.”

The Database, which was originally designed and compiled by Dr Richard Kirkham, will be publicly available through the Ombudsman Association’s website and will be kept updated by the OA’s Legal Interest Group.

Commenting on the publication of the website, Dr Richard Kirkham, Senior Lecturer in the School of Law at the University of Sheffield, said “’the Case Law Database is a publicly accessible database and one of the outputs of a Nuffield Foundation funded project looking into the different ways that decisions in the ombudsman sector are scrutinised and can be challenged. The evidence shows that although few cases are heard by the courts and few ombudsman decisions overturned, judicial review has had an important impact on the way that ombudsman schemes handle complaints.”


• The Ombudsman Association’s membership criteria is recognised as setting the standard for the use of the term ‘ombudsman’ by both the Cabinet Office and Companies House.

• Further information on the Ombudsman Association’s membership criteria can be found here

• The Ombudsman Association’s Service Standards Framework was published in May 2017. Our Caseworker Competency Framework was published in October 2018.

• A list of the Ombudsman Association’s members can be found here

• For further information please contact Donal Galligan, Director, on 07442 496024, or via

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