Working procedure

If you have submitted a complaint to the ombudsman, he or she will ascertain whether he or she can be of assistance to you.

The first question is whether you have submitted your complaint to the right authority. If this is not the case, the ombudsman will refer you to the right authority.

The ombudsman will then inquire whether you have made the complaint known to the organisation concerned and when you did so. The ombudsman will not handle a complaint if it has not yet been submitted to the organisation to which it relates, since this organisation must first have the opportunity to respond to your complaint and resolve the problem if possible.

Hearing both sides
If the ombudsman handles the complaint, he or she will invite the municipal organisation concerned to reply. In most cases, communication between the ombudsman and the municipal organisation takes place through a special complaints officer who acts as an intermediary for the organisation concerned.

The ombudsman will try to resolve your complaint by consultation. In other words, he or she will focus on intermediating, restoring trust and normalising the relationship between you and the municipal authority concerned.

The ombudsman does not handle complaints concerning non-member municipalities, the police, the national government, energy, water and cable providers, health insurance companies, public transport and provincial authorities, and also does not handle complaints concerning legal advice and assistance provided in the context of, for example, purchase, rent, divorce, criminal law and insurances.

The ombudsman will also not handle your complaint if:

  1. the matter concerns a decision against which you may object;
  2. the matter concerns a dispute in respect of which a court can deliver a judgment;
  3. your complaint concerns municipal policy (political and administrative decisions), in which case you can submit your complaint to the municipal council or municipal executive.

In addition, a complaint is usually not handled if the event to which it relates occurred a year or more ago.