Promoting independent complaint resolution

History of the Association

The office of the UK Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration (Parliamentary Ombudsman) was created in 1967.  During the next ten years other UK public sector ombudsman schemes were appointed, so that by the end of the 1970s there were parliamentary, health and local government ombudsman schemes services in each country of the United Kingdom.  In 1981 the Insurance Ombudsman Bureau, the first UK private sector ombudsman scheme, was established and since then further private sector schemes have been set up. 

In Ireland, the Office of the Ombudsman was set up in 1990 followed by private sector ombudsman schemes in 1990 and 1992 for credit institutions and insurance respectively.

In 1991 a conference of UK ombudsman schemes from both the public and private sectors was held, at which it was agreed to set up an association for ombudsman schemes, their staff, and other organisations and individuals, such as voluntary bodies and academics interested in the work of ombudsman schemes.  The Association came into being in 1993 as the United Kingdom Ombudsman Association and became the British and Irish Ombudsman Association when membership was extended to include ombudsman schemes from Ireland in 1994.

In 2012 it was decided to rename the Association as the 'Ombudsman Association'.

The term ‘ombudsman’ is not a protected title although there are moves to give it statutory protection in Ireland. It embraces not only public sector ombudsman schemes who examine complaints that injustice has been caused by maladministration and may make recommendations as to a remedy, but also private sector ombudsman schemes who may make a decision on the merits and can make binding awards - read about ombudsman schemes.

 

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25 years of the Ombudsman Association timeline
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The UK Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration (Parliamentary Ombudsman) was created in 1967. Over the next decade, other public-sector ombudsman were appointed so that by the late 1970s there were parliamentary, health and local government ombudsman services in each country of the United Kingdom. In 1981 the Insurance Ombudsman Bureau, the first private sector ombudsman scheme in the UK, was established and subsequently further private sector schemes were also set up. By 1984 the Office of the Ombudsman was established in the Republic of Ireland.

In 1989 an informal meeting of public and private sector ombudsman offices in the UK took place to discuss common ground. In 1991 the first joint conference of UK ombudsman from both the public and private sectors was held, at which it was agreed to set up an association for ombudsman, their staff, and other organisations and individuals, such as voluntary bodies and academics interested in the work of ombudsman offices. 

The Association came into being in April 1993 as the United Kingdom Ombudsman Association and became the British and Irish Ombudsman Association when membership was extended to include ombudsman offices from the Republic of Ireland in 1994.

In the 1990s and 2000s further ombudsman offices were established not only in the UK and Ireland but also in the British Overseas Territories, starting with the Office of the Complaints Commissioner in the Turks and Caicos Islands in 1994. In 2000 the geographic scope of the Association was expanded to cover the British Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories. Since then the ombudsman concept has spread to the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, starting with the Isle of Man Financial Services Ombudsman Scheme in 2002.

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Consumer complaints

Please note: there are currently no ombudsman schemes for many areas of consumer goods and services.

For advice and information about consumer goods and services, you should contact:

In the UK:
Citizens Advice Consumer Service Tel. 0345 404 0506

In Ireland:
Citizens Information Board
Tel. 0761 07 4000

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