Local Government Ombudsman

July 8th, 2014 by James Goudie KC

Who can complain to the Local Government Ombudsman?  Basically, “a member of the public”: Section 26A of the Local Government Act 1974.  Who for this purpose is “a member of the public”?  An individual or “a body of persons”, whether incorporated or not, that does not come within either of the exclusions in Section 27.  The first exclusion is of a local authority or other authority or body constituted for purposes of the public service or of local government, or for the purposes of carrying on under national ownership any industry or undertaking or part of an industry or undertaking.  The second exclusion is of any other authority or body whose members are appointed by Her Majesty or any Minister of the Crown or government department or by the Welsh Ministers, or “whose revenues consist wholly or mainly of moneys provided by Parliament or the Welsh Ministers”.  The purpose no doubt of both exclusions is to avoid one public body invoking the Ombudsman to pursue a complaint of injustice which it attributes to another public body.

In The Matter of an Application by Armagh City and District Council for Judicial Review, [2014] NICA 44, the Northern Ireland Court of Appeal held that a GP partnership is a “body” for the purpose of similar exclusions in Northern Ireland legislation, but that, although the partnership was mainly publicly funded under the NHS, it did not come within the “… revenues … provided by Parliament …” exclusion of complainants from the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction.

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