Supreme Court makes life more difficult for Ombudsmen’s “fair and reasonable” decisions

This is a report from the UKAJI (UK Administrative Justice Institute).  It analyses a case in Northern Ireland where an Ombudsman’s decision to make an award of £10,000 was subject to challenge.  You need to read the article, but the award was overthrown on the basis that the amount of £10k was “plucked put of the air” and “lacking in any rational basis”.

There is also discussion of whether the Ombudsman concerned actually held the power to make the award at all, and whether a financial award made in this way can be binding when a member of the public has no way to challenge an Ombudsman in Court.

In the past Ombudsmen have been able to get away without serious criticism of their decisions on the basis that if the ombudsman thought his decision was “fair and reasonable” that was an end to the matter.  However the authors of this report from UKAJI make it clear that “this ruling will place an increased onus on ombudsman schemes to be very clear as to the justification for their determinations“.

Just being an ombudsman and saying it is fair and reasonable may not be good enough ?  There is much to be read about this case by googling “JR55” on the internet.

Please read the UKAJI report here

Further view from Bevan Brittan, Lawyers

Actual Judgement on Bailii



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