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The use of informal resolution approaches by ombudsmen in the UK

Researchers: Margaret Doyle

Project overview

This project seeks to identify and map the use of informal resolution approaches used by ombudsmen schemes in the UK and the Republic of Ireland.

Ombudsmen were originally set up to investigate complaints in a way that addressed the power imbalance between citizens and consumers and the public or commercial bodies complained against.  Over the past decade, ombudsmen have developed a range of methods of informal resolution with an emphasis on consensual settlement, representing a significant shift away from formal investigations and determinations.

Little is known about how these approaches work in practice, what principles and criteria are applied, and to what effect.  The mapping exercise will address these gaps by identifying what informal resolution approaches are being used, recording details that are in the public domain in respect of each one of the (approximately 50) schemes that are members of the Ombudsman Association.  Each scheme will be asked to confirm or amend the information and respond to specific questions regarding its use of informal resolution.  Follow-up telephone interviews will explore the issues in greater detail.

In addition to a descriptive analysis of the current use of informal resolution approaches, the project will provide a foundation for future research by identifying the priority gaps, and the current sources of data available and published by various schemes.


  • Margaret Doyle
    De Montfort University

  • Director, Welfare
    Nuffield Foundation

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