The Ombudsman’s process

Here you can see the possible outcomes for a case lodged with the Ombudsman

  1. Can the Ombudsman investigate the complaint?

    • The Ombudsman cannot investigate the complaint

      About 15-20 per cent of the complaints received by the Ombudsman do not meet the formal conditions. The reasons may for instance be that

      • the complaint has been lodged after the 12 months deadline for complaining,
      • the channels of complaint have not been exhausted,
      • the complaint concerns an authority which is not included in the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction.
    • Other processing of the case

      In more than a third of the cases the Ombudsman will help in another way than by carrying out an investigation. This can be by, among other things, giving guidance to the citizen or by sending the complaint on to another authority, so that for in-stance

      • a higher authority can have the opportunity to consider the complaint,
      • the authority is given the opportunity to clarify its grounds to the citizen,
      • the authority is informed that the citizen is dissatisfied with the case processing time.
  2. Is there a basis for investigating the case?

    • The case is closed without further investigation

      In about 15-20 per cent of the cases, the Ombudsman decides not to start a detailed investigation. The reasons may for instance be that

      • the complaint is unfounded or minor
      • the complainant does not have a sufficient interest in a detailed investigation of the case,
      • the complaint falls outside the Ombudsman’s core task, for instance because it depends on an assessment of evidence and witness statements, etc.
      • an Ombudsman investigation would not make a real difference to the complainant.
    • Other processing of the case

      In more than a third of the cases, the Ombudsman will help in another way than by carrying out an investigation. This can be by, among other things, giving guidance to the citizen or by sending the complaint on to another authority, so that for instance

      • a higher authority can have the opportunity to consider the complaint,
      • the authority is given the opportunity to clarify its grounds to the citizen,
      • the authority is informed that the citizen is dissatisfied with the case processing time.
  3. Is the case to be investigated fully?

    • The case is closed after a limited investigation

      The Ombudsman can decide to have a case undergo a limited investigation if there is no prospect of being able to help the complainant reach a better legal position. This happens in about 10-20 per cent of the cases and can for instance be because an initial investigation shows that the central issues in the case

      • depend on assessments which require expert professional knowledge,
      • depend on an assessment of evidence and witness statements, etc.,
      • do not raise issues which provide the prospect of criticising an authority.
  4. In-depth investigation is started

    • The case is closed with a statement after a full investigation

      In about 5 per cent of the cases, the Ombudsman carries out a full Ombudsman investigation which includes, among other things, a hearing of the authority and the complainant.

      The investigation is concluded with a statement giving the Ombudsman’s opinion of the case. Here, the Ombudsman can

      • acquit the authority,
      • state his disagreement with the authority,
      • criticise the authority,
      • give recommendations to the authority.
    • The authority reopens the case, etc.

      The Ombudsman will most often discontinue his investigation of a case without an assessment if the authority reopens its processing of the case, for instance in connection with receiving the Ombudsman’s letter asking for a statement (a hearing letter).

  5. Follow-up

    • The Ombudsman follows up on concluded cases

      The Ombudsman will normally ask to be kept informed of the further course of the case if

      • the Ombudsman has given recommendations,
      • the authority has reopened the case during the hearing period,
      • the case otherwise contains questions of fundamental importance or of general character.