Scottish Public Services Ombudsman

Call us on 0800 377 7330

Background to the process

The SPSO believes in natural justice. 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

From 1 October 2018, the timescales for requesting a review of our decision changed.  The new timescales are detailed below, and in our updated leaflet 'Your complaint, our decision' (PDF, 40KB).

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.

You can only ask for a review on the following grounds:

  • You feel we made our decision based on important evidence that contains facts that were not accurate, and you can show this using readily available information.
  • You feel you have new and relevant information that was not previously available and that affects the decision we made.  In this case, we may share the new information with the organisation you complained about. We do this to give them the chance to consider it before the Ombudsman makes a decision on your review request.

How to ask for a review

You should use a review request form (PDF, 25KB). We can also send you a copy if you call us on Freephone 0800 377 7330 or call 0131 225 5300.

  • If you wish to request a review, you should let us know within three weeks of receiving our decision letter.  You will then have a further three weeks to send us your full review request.  This means you have a total of six weeks after receiving our decision to send us your full review request. We will not accept any review requests that do not follow this process, unless you can show special circumstances that meant you were unable to do so.
  • If the organisation you complained about wants to request a review, they will also need to let us know within three weeks of receiving the decision letter. They will then have one week after this to send us their full review request.

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 days or less, and 40% being responded to within 50 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.

Updated: October 4, 2018