An Introduction to Administrative Law

By Peter Cane | Go to book overview

18
Investigating Complaints

IN Chapter 8 we noted the difference between adversarial and inquisitorial styles of fact-finding. In this chapter we will examine the use of formal inquisitorial (or investigative) techniques as a means of resolving complaints against government. Investigating officials are most often referred to by the convenient, but unfortunately gender-specific, term of 'ombudsman'.1 I shall refer to the mode of operation of ombudsmen as the 'investigatory' technique to distinguish it from adversarial factfinding.

Designating someone in an organization, whether public or private, to deal with 'customer' complaints is, of course, not a recent development, but the importance of making specific provision within government for handling complaints has been reasserted in the Citizen's Charter. The appointment of complaints officers who are external to and independent of the organization complained against is now also very common in the private as well as in the public sector. It began with the creation of the office of Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration (PCA) in 1967. The PCA deals with complaints against central government; the Health Service Commissioners (HSC) (there are three posts, one each for England, Scotland and Wales, all held by the PCA) with the National Health Service, and the Commission for Local Administration (CLA) with local government. In Northern Ireland there is a Parliamentary Commissioner, and a Commissioner for Complaints who deals with local authorities and other public bodies.2


THE PARLIAMENTARY COMMISSIONER FOR ADMINISTRATION

The office of the PCA3 was conceived, in part, as a way of making up for deficiencies and gaps in judicial and parliamentary mechanisms for

____________________
1
P. Birkinshaw, Grievances, Remedies and the State, 2nd edn ( London, 1994), ch 5; N. Lewis and P. Birkinshaw, When Citizens Complain, ( Buckingham, 1993), ch 7.
2
The EC also has an Ombudsman: M Hedemann-Robinson [ 1994] New LJ609.
3
The Government intends to rename this office the 'Parliamentary Ombudsman'.

-314-

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An Introduction to Administrative Law
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Clarendon Law Series ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents vii
  • Contents xxxv
  • Part I - Rules and Principles of Judicial Review 1
  • 1 - The Nature of Judicial Review 3
  • 2 - The Scope of Judicial Review Public Law and Private Law 12
  • 3 - Applicants 42
  • 4 - Remedies Uses and Availability 62
  • 5 - Procedures 89
  • 6 - Authority 109
  • 7 - The Decision-Making Process (i) 133
  • 8 - The Decision-Making Process (ii) 160
  • 9 - The Output 208
  • 10 - Estoppel 218
  • Part II - Rules and Principles of Liability II 231
  • II- Introduction 233
  • 12 - Liability in Tort 241
  • 13 - Government Contracts 257
  • 14 - Restitution 276
  • Part III- Information 279
  • 15 - Information and Litigation 281
  • 16 - Government Secrecy and Freedom of Information 292
  • Part IV - Non-Judicial Control 301
  • 17 - Parliament the Constitutional Functions of Parliament 303
  • 18 - Investigating Complaints 314
  • 19 - Tribunals 331
  • Part V - Wider Perspectives on Judicial Control 345
  • 20 - Constitutional and Political Background 347
  • 21 - Judicial Review and the Administrative Process 378
  • Index 393
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