Well, the first essential is that there should be a proper regime for the businesses themselves to handle complaints. It's right that people should take their concerns first to the business that is causing them that concern, and they should deal with it appropriately and promptly. And hopefully most difficulties will be resolved in that way, leaving only unresolved issues to be taken to the ombudsman.
It may be that that -- at that early stage, maybe even before a complaint has been made, that an inquiry will be made to the ombudsman. Typical sorts of proportions. The ombudsman gets 75,000 enquiries, but handles 8,000 cases. The financial ombudsman gets more than 1 million inquiries, handles 250,000 cases.
So quite a lot of stuff is headed off at an early stage, and obviously with minimal expense.
Assuming the citizen is not satisfied with the response that they get, then it would come to the ombudsman scheme which would see whether it was a matter that was in their jurisdiction. They would also see whether actually there was some ground to bring it to a halt without taking it any further.
So if, for example, it was clear that even if the ombudsman accepted every dot and comma of the complaint that had been made, the redress that the business had already offered would be bound to be sufficient, then the ombudsman wouldn't take it any further.
Assuming that's not the position, then in many cases it's possible to resolve the matter by mediation, with the assistance of an independent third party view from the ombudsman scheme. Although if the parties are more entrenched or in the more complicated of cases, there may need to be an inquisitorial investigation, leading usually to a recommendation.
Within most ombudsman schemes, there's usually a two stage approach. So you have a case handler with a variety of different fancy names who would conduct the investigation and would produce the recommendation, which in the majority of cases is accepted by both parties, but in a minority of cases, either party can say, no, I want this case looked at by the ombudsman. So the ombudsman actually acts as an internal appeal stage, rather than the first instance.