Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Systemic maladministration

Mary Seneviratne 'Public Services and Administrative Justice' (2002) Butterworth:

It can be argued that one of the primary functions of an ombudsman is to seek out causes of injustice at the systemic level, in a way that a court of law could never do.

Harlow and Rawlings 'Law and Administration' (2nd edn. 1997) Characterise the two different functions of the ombudsmen as fire-fighters and fire-watchers. Their fire-fighting role is similar to that of the courts, providing remedies for individual grievances. The fire-watching role is that of inspection and audit. In essence seeking out causes of injustice at the systemic level).

The fire-fighting role of the UK public sector ombudsmen was set by the report that proceeded the establishment of the Parliamentary Ombudsman. It took a narrow, grievance redressing view of the function of an ombudsman, and did not even consider the objective of identifying and eradicating administrative inefficiency.

None of the public sector ombudsmen in the UK are empowered to conduct 'own initiative' investigations and in this respect they are out of line with ombudsmen in other systems.

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