Frequently asked questions
About whom can a complaint be made to the Ombudsman?
A complaint can be made about an authority or official as well as about any other person who performs a public task.
Examples of authorities include courts of law, state offices and institutions as well as municipal bodies, such as municipal boards and committees.
Officials include judges, police officers, distraint officials, mayors, members of municipal councils, building inspectors, social workers, comprehensive school teachers and health centre doctors.
Other parties that perform public tasks include unemployment funds and insurance institutions when they take care of statutory compensation payments, subsidies and pensions.
Can one write a complaint oneself or is a lawyer's assistance needed?
You can write a free-form complaint yourself or use the complaint form, which you will find through the link below or can be ordered from the Office of the Ombudsman, tel. +358 (0)9 4321. There is no need to seek a lawyer's assistance.
Is there a fee for investigating a complaint?
There is no fee. The investigation of a complaint costs the complainant nothing.
Can a complaint be handwritten?
Yes it can, but it must be written clearly enough to be legible.
How old a matter can be complained about?
Unless there is a special reason to do so, the Ombudsman cannot investigate a matter over two years old.
Is a complaint in the public domain?
The Act on Publicity of Official Actions is observed when complaints are being investigated. Before a decision is reached in a matter, the publicity of the complaint documents is considered separately in each individual case.
The law requires that information concerning, for example, the complainant's state of health or social benefits must always be kept secret.
The name of the complainant becomes known to the subject of the complaint when the latter is given the opportunity to present his or her view.
How long does it take to deal with a complaint?
The time needed to deal with a complaint depends on the nature of the matter to which the complaint relates. If, for example, the matter in question is not within the scope of the Ombudsman's powers, a decision is made at once.
The average time taken to deal with complaints is about three months.
What documents should be appended to a complaint?
Familiarisation with the details of a complaint will be made easier if the most important relevant documents are appended.
Can a complaint be sent by fax?
Yes, it can, the fax number is +358 (0)9 432 2268.It can also be sent either by post or e-mail, or delivered by hand to the Office of the Parliamentary Ombudsman at Arkadiankatu 3, 2nd floor.
The Office is open to clients from 09:00 to 16:00, Monday-Friday.
Can one call in person at the Office of the Parliamentary Ombudsman to discuss the matter?
On-duty lawyers at the Office of the Parliamentary Ombudsman are available to give advice by phone, +358 (0)9 4321. (Parliament's switchboard)A face-to-face meeting may be arranged by appointment.
However, the lawyers do not provide any judicial assistance nor predict the outcome of a given complaint.
How can one find out how the handling of a complaint is progressing?
Enquiries about the progress of handling a complaint can be made to the Records Section of the Office of the Parliamentary Ombudsman, tel. +358 (0)9 432 3381, or to the referendary processing the complaint.
The referendary's number is provided in the notification sent to the complainant after the complaint has been received by the Ombudsman.
Is it possible to complain to the Ombudsman about a matter in relation to which an appeal can still be made to another authority?
The Ombudsman cannot investigate a complaint concerning a matter which is still pending before a court of law or other authority, nor a matter in which an appeal process is still in progress or in relation to which an appeal remains possible.
Should a complaint be made to the Parliamentary Ombudsman or the Chancellor of Justice?
You can choose for yourself whether to make a complaint to the Parliamentary Ombudsman or the Chancellor of Justice. Their tasks and powers are largely the same.
However, the Ombudsman investigates complaints which concern the Defence Forces, the Prison Service and other closed institutions. The Chancellor of Justice transfers complaints of this kind to the Ombudsman, and the complainant is always notified that this has been done.
The Ombudsman and the Chancellor of Justice do not investigate the same matter at the same time. Instead, a complaint is investigated by whichever of the overseers it reaches first.
If I am dissatisfied with the reply I get from the Office of the Chancellor of Justice, can I complain to the Ombudsman about the same matter?
The overseers of legality do not monitor each other's activities. If the Chancellor of Justice has already examined a complaint, another complaint concerning the same matter will not be re-examined by the Office of the Ombudsman without a special reason.
From the perspective of people's legal security, it is essential that everyone can have his or her matter investigated by one of the overseers of legality or the other. The right to make a complaint is not linked to nationality.