The office of the UK Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration (Parliamentary Ombudsman) was created in 1967. During the next ten years other UK public sector ombudsmen were appointed, so that by the end of the 1970s there were parliamentary, health and local government ombudsmen 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 ombudsmen in 1990 and 1992 for credit institutions and insurance respectively.
In 1991 a conference of UK ombudsmen from both the public and private sectors was held, at which it was agreed to set up an association for ombudsmen, their staff, and other organisations and individuals, such as voluntary bodies and academics interested in the work of ombudsmen. 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 ombudsmen 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 ombudsmen who examine complaints that injustice has been caused by maladministration and may make recommendations as to a remedy, but also private sector ombudsmen who may make a decision on the merits and can make binding awards - read about ombudsmen.