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Norfolk County Council (21 001 604)

Category : Children's care services > Other

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 16 Jul 2021

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We cannot investigate Mr X’s complaint about the Council’s actions which are linked to private law proceedings because it lies outside our jurisdiction. The law prevents us from considering complaints about matters that are being, or have been, considered in court.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, whom I shall call Mr X, complains about the Council’s actions which are related to ongoing private law proceedings.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. The Local Government Act 1974 sets out our powers but also imposes restrictions on what we can investigate.
  2. We cannot investigate a complaint about the start of court action or what happened in court. (Local Government Act 1974, Schedule 5/5A, paragraph 1/3, as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered information provided by the complainant and the Council.
  2. I considered the Ombudsman’s Assessment Code.

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My assessment

  1. Mr X complains about the Council’s actions which are linked to ongoing private family law proceedings. Mr X says he has been targeted by the Council and he believes it is conspiring to prevent him from having contact with his children.
  2. Mr X says the Council provided court reports which contain incorrect information which he would like withdrawn from the court. Due to these reports, the court ordered he have no direct or indirect contact with his children. Mr X says the Council failed to provide him with a copy of a court order and wrongly shared information about what happened in court with other parties. He says the Council failed to comply with a court order and an officer tried to get him arrested for being offensive.
  3. Mr X says he is unable to see his children because the court is abiding by an incorrect report. He says the Council is responsible for him being unable to see his children. He would like contact with his children to be arranged.
  4. The matters Mr X complains about are very closely linked to the private family court proceedings and information that has been considered by the court. They cannot be considered separately to the court proceedings. The law prevents us from considering complaints about such matters. The question of contact can only be decided by the court and any dispute about the contents of court reports needs to be raised during proceedings so the court can reach a decision on it. If a court order has been breached this is also a matter for the court to consider. The court should also provide a copy of a court order.
  5. If Mr X considers his private data has been incorrectly shared by the Council in telling other parties what happened in court, he could raise this with the Information Commissioner which is the body set up to consider data protection matters.

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Final decision

  1. We cannot investigate Mr X’s complaint because it lies outside our jurisdiction. The law prevents us from considering complaints about matters that are being, or have been, considered in court proceedings. We have no discretion to do so.

Investigator’s decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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