Putting things right
Where maladministration or poor service has led to injustice or hardship, public bodies should try to offer a remedy that returns the complainant to the position they would have been in otherwise. If that is not possible, the remedy should compensate them appropriately. Remedies should also be offered, where appropriate, to others who have suffered injustice or hardship as a result of the same maladministration or poor service.
There are no automatic or routine remedies for injustice or hardship resulting from maladministration or poor service. Remedies may be financial or non-financial.
An appropriate range of remedies will include:
- an apology, explanation, and acknowledgement of responsibility
- remedial action, which may include reviewing or changing a decision on the service given to an individual complainant; revising published material; revising procedures to prevent the same thing happening again; training or supervising staff; or any combination of these
- financial compensation for direct or indirect financial loss, loss of opportunity, inconvenience, distress, or any combination of these.
Public bodies should:
- calculate payments for financial loss by looking at how much the complainant has demonstrably lost or what extra costs they have incurred
- apply an appropriate interest rate to payments for financial loss, aimed at restoring complainants to the position they would have been in if the maladministration or poor service had not occurred
- consider what interest rate to pay and explain the reasons for the chosen rate.
Factors to consider when deciding the level of financial compensation for inconvenience or distress should include:
- the impact on the individual – for example whether the events contributed to ill health, or led to prolonged or aggravated injustice or hardship
- the length of time taken to resolve a dispute or complaint
- the trouble the individual was put to in pursuing the dispute or complaint.
Remedies may need to take account of injustice or hardship that results from pursuing the complaint as well the original dispute. Financial compensation may be appropriate for:
- costs that the complainant incurred in pursuing the complaint
- any inconvenience, distress or both that resulted from poor complaint handling by the public body.
Remedial action may include improvements to the public body’s complaints policy or procedures.