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

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)

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). 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.

Updated: May 30, 2019