Who can complain
We can investigate complaints about most Public Service Providers.
Go to Complaining about a Public Service for more information.
Our authority to conduct investigations
Public Services Ombudsman Act 98 (51 KB)
Power to investigate
13.(1) Subject to the provisions of this Part, the Ombudsman may investigate any administrative action taken by or on behalf of any Authority to which this Part applies in any case where
(a) a written complaint is duly made to the Ombudsman by a member of the public who claims to have sustained injustice in consequence of maladministration in connection with the action so taken; and (b)
the Ombudsman considers that it is right and proper to conduct an investigation in respect of such complaint.
(2) In determining whether to initiate, continue or discontinue an investigation, the Ombudsman shall, subject to the provisions of this Part, act in accordance with his own discretion; and any question whether a complaint is duly made under this Act shall be determined by the Ombudsman.
Types of fault
We can look at complaints about matters that have gone wrong:
- In the way a service has been delivered.
- If a service has not been delivered at all, or
- The way a decision has been made that has caused problems for you. But we cannot question what a service provider has done simply because you do not agree with it.
Examples of fault
Examples might be if the relevant service provider:
- Takes too long to do something without reasonable excuse.
- Does not follow its own rules or the law.
- Breaks its promises.
- Does not reply to letter(s).
- Behaves unhelpfully, for example, staff are rude.
- Treats you unfairly, unreasonably or discriminatory
- Gives you wrong information or bad advice, or
- Does not arrive at a decision in an adequate manner, for example, does not follow the right.
- Procedures when making the decision.
If we find that something has gone wrong which has caused problems for you, we can ask the relevant entity to take action to put the matter right. See Putting things right.
What we can’t look at
We cannot usually question what a government department has done simply because you do not agree with it. There must be an allegation of fault by the entity concerned. There are also some things we may not investigate because there is a more appropriate body to deal with your complaint, or because we don’t have the legal authority to do so. The law is complex and this is not a complete list, but we cannot investigate:
- Having had knowledge of the matters complained about for more than six months, unless there is good reason for the delay.
- Consumer-related matters
- Private Individuals, or private companies
- When proceedings are pending in a court or tribunal or when you have already appealed to a tribunal or have taken court action against the relevant entity.
- Any criminal investigation by the police.
- Personnel matters (about your employment, including pay, pensions or dismissal; or about
applications for employment).
- Matters related to the merit of government policy. Matters might affect the relations or dealing between the government and any other government, prejudice the investigation or detection of offences, or be injurious to the public interest.