Decision : Closed after initial enquiries
Decision date : 24 Nov 2021
The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: We cannot investigate this complaint about the way the Council’s children services assisted the complainant with securing contact with his children. This is because these matters are currently considered by court. We cannot investigate other matters raised by the complainant as they are too closely linked to the court proceedings.
- The complainant, to whom I refer here as Mr X, complains about actions of the Council’s Children’s Services since the instigation of his divorce proceedings. Mr X says the Council failed to secure contact with his children which caused emotional and psychological harm. He also complains about insufficient communication, lack of advice and delays.
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- The Local Government Act 1974 sets out our powers but also imposes restrictions on what we can investigate.
- The courts have said that where someone has used their right of appeal, reference or review or remedy by way of proceedings in any court of law, the Ombudsman has no jurisdiction to investigate. This is the case even if the appeal did not or could not provide a complete remedy for all the injustice claimed.
(R v The Commissioner for Local Administration ex parte PH (1999) EHCA Civ 916)
How I considered this complaint
- I considered information provided by Mr X and the Council.
- I considered the Ombudsman’s Assessment Code.
- In response to Mr X’s complaint the Council said it would not consider Mr X’s complaint as the matters related to his children’s care and contact with the father are currently considered within private law proceedings.
- The courts said the matters which have been considered by courts are outside our jurisdiction. Consequently we cannot investigate any issues related to the children’s care, or the way the Council has acted towards Mr X, which are part of the court proceedings. It is reasonable to expect Mr X to tell the Court of any failings which affect his parental rights, the children’s care or the Council’s views on the children’s care.
We cannot investigate Mr X’s complaint because its substantive issues are currently considered by court. We cannot investigate other matters raised by the complainant as they are too closely linked to the court proceedings.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman