Ombudsman Act complaints


What can the Ombudsman do?

Under the Ombudsman Act, the Ombudsman can investigate complaints about the administrative acts and decisions of Government ministries and Crown Agencies.

Government Ministries & Crown Agencies that fall within the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction are listed in Schedules 1 & 2 of the Ombudsman Act 1984.  They include:

  • Government Ministries
  • Crown Agencies
  • Island Councils (although, if your complaint is about misconduct by an elected member, you can complaint to the Chief of Staff, Office of the Prime Minister)
  • Statutory Corporations
  • State-Owned Enterprises

What the Ombudsman cannot do?

The Ombudsman cannot investigate complaints about:

  • Decisions made by the courts or tribunals
  • Ministers of the Crown (however, the Ombudsman can investigate complaints about advice provided to Ministers by government officials)
  • Private companies and individuals
  • Lawyers
  • Trustees

The Ombudsman can’t investigate your complaint if you have a right of appeal or review to a court or tribunal on the merits of your case, unless there are special circumstances that make it unreasonable for you to use those appeal rights.

If we can’t investigate your complaint, we’ll tell you why and may direct you to other complaint handling bodies that may be able to assist.

Can the Ombudsman refuse to investigate your complaint?

Before making a complaint to the Ombudsman, you should try to resolve it with the ministry first.  Many ministries have a complaints process.  If this is not the case, you should write to the head of Ministry (HoM) or Chief Executive of the agency and make your complaint.  The Ombudsman may decide not to investigate your complaint unless you have attempted to do this. 

The Ombudsman may refuse to investigate your complaint if:

  • there is an adequate alternative remedy reasonably available to you
  • following preliminary enquiries, an investigation is considered unnecessary
  • your complaint is more than 12 months old
  • your complaint is trivial, vexatious or not made in good faith
  • you do not have a sufficient personal interest in the complaint.

If the Ombudsman decides not to investigate your complaint you’ll receive an explanation for that decision. 

If you’re not sure whether the Ombudsman can investigate your complaint, call us on (682) 20605

Schedules 1 &2 of the Ombudsman Act 1984 – Shown Below