Decision : Closed after initial enquiries
Decision date : 20 Mar 2015
The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate this complaint about personal injury following a trip on a pavement because the complainant has a legal remedy. For that reason it is outside the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction.
- The complainant, in this statement I will refer to her as Mrs A, says she tripped on a pavement, injuring herself. She believes the Council was at fault for not properly maintaining the pavement and she wants compensation for her injury. She also complains the Council delayed unreasonably in dealing with her claim.
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- The Local Government Act 1974 sets out the Ombudsman’s powers but also imposes restrictions on what she can investigate.
- The law says the Ombudsman cannot normally investigate a complaint when someone could take the matter to court. However, she may decide to investigate if she considers it would be unreasonable to expect the person to go to court. (Local Government Act 1974, section 26(6)(c))
How I considered this complaint
- I have
- considered the information provided in the initial telephoned complaint
- explained my draft decision to Mrs A and offered her the opportunity to respond
What I found
- Mrs A says she tripped on an uneven pavement and was injured.
- If Mrs A believes she suffered a personal injury because of negligence by the Council she may make a claim in court. Because she has this legal remedy her complaint is outside the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman.
- Again, if Mrs A believed the Council was delaying unreasonably in dealing with her claim, it was open to her at any time, to commence legal proceedings against the Council.
- I have considered if I should exercise the discretion open to me to investigate the complaint even though the complainant has a remedy in court. The Council denies negligence. It is my view it would be reasonable for Mrs A to take the matter to court as only a court could determine if the Council has been negligent and, if it has, what damages must be paid. The Ombudsman has no powers to enforce such an award.
- The Ombudsman will not investigate this complaint about personal injury following a trip on a pavement because the complainant has a legal remedy. For that reason it is outside the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction.
Investigator’s decision on behalf of the Ombudsman
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman