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Decision review process

Background to the process

The SPSO believes in fairness and transparency. While we are the last stage in the complaints process and we recognise that a vital part of our role is to draw a line under complaints and issue a final decision, we also accept that that we are not infallible. The law says that people and bodies can only challenge our decisions by judicial review. We know that this can be a complicated technical process, and so we have, of our own initiative, established a process for reviewing our decisions.

Asking for a review

The timescales for requesting a review of our decision are detailed below and in our leaflet Your complaint, our decision (PDF)

Our role is to make a decision on each complaint by taking into account all the available facts and evidence.  We do this by carefully considering the views and opinions of both the person making the complaint and whoever is being complained about.

The grounds on which you can ask us to review our decision on your complaint are limited.  We will not accept a request for a review if you simply disagree with the outcome of your complaint.

This process is open to people and organisations who have received a decision from us.

The Ombudsman generally looks at all review requests. She will only change a decision if you:

  • send new information, and/or
  • demonstrate information we used was wrong, and/or
  • demonstrate we made a mistake


  • it has an impact on the original decision.

How to ask for a review

You should use a review request form (PDF). We can also send you a copy if you call us on Freephone 0800 377 7330 or call 0131 225 5300.

You should send us your review request and all the supporting information within six weeks of the date of our decision letter.  We will not accept review requests made later than six weeks, unless you can show there were special circumstances that meant you were unable to do so.

If you think you will not be able to meet the timescale for any reason, you should contact us as soon as possible to discuss this with us.

The Ombudsman will consider your request for a review and decide whether to review the decision. We will let you know whether your request is eligible – based on the above grounds. If it is, our response will also tell you whether we will uphold our original decision, change the decision, or reopen your complaint for further investigation.

We aim to respond to review requests on a timely basis, with 95% of requests being responded to within 90 working days or less, and 40% being responded to within 50 working days or less.

Judicial Review

If you want to challenge our decision again, you will only be able to do this using judicial review proceedings.  Judicial review is a form of court proceeding where a judge reviews whether a decision or action by a public body is lawful.  You may want to take legal advice before deciding whether this is appropriate in your case.

Contact us if you need advice on our decision review process.

Working with us: respecting each other

We are committed to providing a fair and accessible service. We believe that everyone who contacts us has the right to be treated with respect and dignity.

We will do our best to engage with you positively and use the best method for you.  

Tell us if something is going wrong

  • We want to fix problems and to know if you are unhappy. 
  • Please tell us; we will check what we have done against our standards and make changes if we can.

Remember we are people too

  • Our staff have the same rights to be treated with respect and dignity as our users, and we must provide a safe working environment for them.
  • We must also provide a service to all our customers.

This means we need to handle any situation or actions which could have a negative impact on our staff or our ability to work. We may need to speak with you about this or we may need to change the way we engage with you. If this happens, we will explain what we are doing and why. Details of our policy about this can be found here, or we can send you a copy of this policy on request.

Updated: October 1, 2021