Decision : Closed after initial enquiries
Decision date : 12 Mar 2018
The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate Miss X’s complaint about a fall her mother suffered while travelling on a Transport for London Bus. This is because the complaint is late and it is reasonable for her mother to use the legal remedy available.
- The complainant, whom I shall call Miss X, says her mother (Mrs X) suffered a fall when the bus she was travelling on took a corner too quickly. Miss X says her mother now suffers from mobility problems and wants compensation for her injuries.
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.
- We cannot investigate late complaints unless we decide there are good reasons. Late complaints are when someone takes more than 12 months to complain to us about something a council has done. (Local Government Act 1974, sections 26B and 34D, as amended)
- 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 considered Miss X’s complaint to the Ombudsman and spoke with her on the telephone. I gave Miss X the opportunity to comment on my draft decision and considered her response.
What I found
- Miss X says that in 2013 her mother fell on a Transport for London (TfL) operated bus when the driver took a corner too quickly. She would like TfL to pay her mother compensation. Miss X says she complained at the time but did not receive a response. She chased TfL for a response in 2017 but it said it had no record of the incident.
- The Ombudsman normally expects people to complain to us within twelve months of becoming aware of a problem. Miss X complains about something which happened in 2013 and so the exclusion at paragraph 3 applies to her complaint.
- The Ombudsman does have discretion to consider this complaint. But at the heart of Miss X’s complaint is a question of negligence. If Miss X believes her mother suffered an injury because of negligence by the bus company contracted to TfL, then she may make a claim in court.
- Adjudication on questions of negligence usually involves making decisions on contested questions of fact and law. These need the more rigorous and structured procedures of civil litigation for their proper determination. Only a court could determine if the driver was negligent and if damages should be paid. This is not something the Ombudsman can decide. The Ombudsman will not therefore exercise its discretion to consider Miss X’s complaint.
- The Ombudsman will not investigate Miss X’s complaint. This is because the complaint is late and it is reasonable for her mother to use the legal remedy available.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman