The Twelve Most Frequently Asked Questions
Maladministration has not been defined by the legislator, however, a body of case law has developed on the subject. Maladministration covers bias, neglect, inattention, delay, incompetence, inaptitude, perversity, turpitude, arbitrariness etc. The list is open ended and it covers the manner in which a decision is reached or discretion exercised: but not the merits of the decision or of the discretion. It follows that a discretionary decision, properly exercised, which the complainant dislikes but cannot fault the manner in which it was taken, cannot be classified as maladministration.
2. Do I have to complain to the relevant government department or entity before I complain to the Ombudsman?
Yes, you do. The Ombudsman is a complaints mechanism of last resort and we advise that you put your complaint to the department or entity that caused the grievance and give them a reasonable opportunity to consider your complaint and respond to you. If you feel that your complaint has not been dealt with adequately or at all, then you may lodge a complaint with the Ombudsman.
3. Can the Ombudsman investigate other matters other than acts of maladministration undertaken by the government or other providers of services approved by the government?
No. The Ombudsman can only deal with matters of maladministration undertaken by the Government of Gibraltar and providers of certain services to the general public. He cannot investigate complaints about private individuals, consumer-related matters, and criminal investigations by the Police nor matters relating to government policy.
The Ombudsman may refuse to investigate when the complaint is considered to be trivial or vexatious, also when it is barred on account of the Complainant having had knowledge of the matter complained about for more than six months.
No. The law does not allow us to investigate labour-related issues. Anyone with employment problems should seek advice from the Citizens Advice Bureau or from their respective Trade Union.
Yes. Any member of the public can make a complaint to the Ombudsman.
No. The Ombudsman has no legal power to make the government act on his decisions. But in most cases government do follow his recommendations.
No. An Ombudsman cannot act as an appeal body against a government decision and has no legal power to overturn or override a decision. So, for example, the Ombudsman will not be able to get the government to stop your neighbour building an extension for which planning permission has been granted.
Yes. The Ombudsman receives about 500 complaints/enquiries a year, and with the help of his trained staff he is involved personally in every case.
The law does not allow us to investigate something you could appeal about to a tribunal or a government minister or go to court about. However, there are exceptions to this Rule by way of discretion vested on the Ombudsman by the Public Services Ombudsman Act 98
11. Can the Ombudsman stop the relevant department or entity taking action while you are looking into my complaint?
The Ombudsman has no power to tell the relevant department or entity what to do or what not to do while we are investigating your complaint. The law says that the relevant department or entity should continue to deal with matters in the normal way. So, for example, it is very unlikely that any planning permission already granted by government will be changed by an investigation carried out by the Ombudsman.
Yes. You can get someone else, such as a friend, relative, or advice agency to complain for you. You must give permission for a complaint to be made and for the person to represent you. This should normally be in writing.