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How long will it take

Please note that due to staff shortages there may be a delay in handling your investigation. You will be given further information about this when you make your application, including a revised timeline for the allocation of an investigator and subsequent completion of any investigation. We sincerely apologise for this and are working to fill our current vacancies as quickly as possible. 

We will acknowledge receipt of your application within 2 working days. How long the rest of the process will take will depend on what you are asking the Ombudsman to do.

The timeframes outlined below start from the time you provide a complete application form to our office. These timeframes are our own and are not set down in legislation.  As such, they may subject to review.

Acknowledgement We will acknowledge that we have received your application within 2 working days.
Allocation of investigator* Within 5-10 working days (1-2 weeks) from the date of acknowledgement
Referral* 7 working days (1.5 weeks) from the date of acknowledgement
Review of an Admissibility decision* 17 working days (3.5 weeks) from the date of acknowledgement
Undue Delay* 17 working days (3.5 weeks) from the date of acknowledgement
Maladministration* 100 working days (20 weeks) from the date of acknowledgement
Substance (Merits)* 100 working days (20 weeks) from the date of acknowledgement

*The published timeframes start from the time a fully completed application form is received by our office. This means that all of the information requested on the form has been provided. This includes:

  • signed consent (you can type your name if you are sending the form from a personal email account in your own name)
  • any extra documents asked for the application form
  • any other information requested by the Enquiries and Referrals Team

Timeframes could be longer if we are dealing with a high volume of applications. Your acknowledgement email will outline any expected delays in allocating your application to an investigator.

How to help the process run smoothly

It is important that you:

  • Let us know how and when we can contact you

    There is space to do this on the application forms. Don’t forget to tell us when you won’t be available too – whether for deployment or any other reason.

  • Try and get the information to us as quickly as possible

    We understand that everyone is busy and you may not always have the information we ask for right in front of you. But we can’t help you without it, so it is important to provide it as soon as you can.

  • Make a new application for each type of investigation

    You may be asking the Ombudsman to do more than one thing, but you need to make a separate application for each. This is so we understand what you are asking for and apply the right time frame and process to request each. We tried to have have only one form to cover all 4 powers, but it was too confusing for people. We understand that it is a bit of extra work at the beginning, but it makes the process quicker in the end.