Guidelines for making a complaint against the Ombudsman’s office

The Independent External Arbitrator

If a complainant or a subscribing member is dissatisfied with the service which the office delivered it is important for us to know about, so that we can try to put matters right.

A retired High Court Judge was appointed by the Ombudsman’s Council as the Independent External Arbitrator (“the IEA”) to deal with complaints against the office of the Ombudsman (“the office”).

The function of the IEA is to take an independent view whether the office provides a reasonable service in its complaints handling process. The IEA receives and considers service complaints against the office by complainants and by subscribing members. A service complaint is about the practical handling of a complaint and it does not relate to the outcome of a complaint.

The role of the IEA is thus to consider complaints about the way in which we handle cases and disagreements about the merits of decisions are excluded from his jurisdiction.

Consumers and subscribing members may complain about the level of service of the office, its procedures or the behaviour of any member of its staff. A special procedure is provided for dealing with such service complaints, but it does not apply if a party disagrees with the decision of the office on the merits of a complaint.
The first step in making a service complaint is to advise the Ombudsman thereof. Please address your complaint to Judge R P McLaren at a dedicated postal address, namely P O Box 45007, Claremont, 7735 or to rmclaren@ombud.co.za. The Ombudsman or the Deputy Ombudsman will personally attend to the complaint. If the complaint is not satisfactorily resolved in 20 working days the complaint may then be addressed to the IEA, Judge R B Cleaver, at the same postal address or to
independentassessor@ombud.co.za, which is protected by a password and at which confidentiality will be respected.

The IEA will then investigate the complaint and, in doing so, will follow whatever process he deems suitable.

If in a given case the IEA considers it necessary for the purpose of redress, he will have the power:

  •  to reprimand the office or any members of its staff; and
  •  to order the office or any member of its staff to apologise to the complainant.

At the end of each year the IEA will furnish a written report to the Council and to the Ombudsman. The Ombudsman will thereafter report on it in his Annual Report, but in doing so he will not disclose the identities of the parties involved in the complaint.

Subscribe to our Newsletter