This document gives our views on the Principles that should guide how public bodies provide remedies for injustice or hardship resulting from their maladministration or poor service. It sets out for complainants and bodies within the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman’s jurisdiction how we think public bodies should put things right when they have gone wrong and our approach to recommending remedies.
Remedying injustice and hardship is a key aspect of the Ombudsman’s work. Not all maladministration or poor service results in injustice or hardship, but where it does, our underlying principle is to ensure that the public body restores the complainant to the position they would have been in if the maladministration or poor service had not occurred. If that is not possible, the public body should compensate them appropriately.
We aim to secure suitable and proportionate remedies for complainants whose complaints are upheld and, where appropriate, for others who have suffered injustice or hardship as a result of the same maladministration or poor service. We want public bodies to be fair and to take responsibility, to acknowledge failures and apologise for them, to make amends, and to use the opportunity to improve their services.
There is a range of appropriate responses to a complaint that has been upheld. These will include both financial and non-financial remedies. Financial compensation will not be appropriate in every case, but public bodies should not rule it out as a form of remedy for justified complaints. We understand that, for public bodies, there is often a balance between responding appropriately to people’s complaints and acting proportionately within available resources. However, finite resources should not be used as an excuse for failing to provide a fair remedy.
The Principles set out here are intended to promote a shared understanding of how to put things right when they have gone wrong and to help public bodies in the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction provide fair remedies.