Decision : Closed after initial enquiries
Decision date : 15 Jan 2019
The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate Mrs X’s complaint about injuries she suffered while travelling on a Transport for London Bus. This is because Mrs X’s complaint is late and it is reasonable for her to use the legal remedy available.
- The complainant, whom I shall call Mrs X, says she suffered a fall causing serious injuries when the bus she was travelling on braked suddenly.
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 or other body 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 Mrs X’s complaint to the Ombudsman and the information she provided. I also gave Mrs X the opportunity to comment on a draft statement before reaching a final decision on her complaint.
What I found
- Mrs X says that in March 2017, she was travelling on a Transport for London (TfL) bus, when it braked suddenly. This caused her to fall leading to serious injuries which she still suffers from. Mrs X says the driver was negligent and wants compensation for the injuries she suffered.
- The Ombudsman normally expects people to complain to us within twelve months of them becoming aware of a problem. Mrs X’s complaint is therefore late, and the exclusion at paragraph 3 applies. We look at each complaint individually and on its merits, but we do not exercise discretion to consider late complaints unless there are good reasons to do so. I see no reason Mrs X could not have complained to the Ombudsman sooner.
- But even if she had, at the heart of her complaint is a claim of negligence. 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 what damages, if any, should be paid. This is not something the Ombudsman can decide. An investigation by the Ombudsman is not therefore appropriate.
- The Ombudsman will not investigate Mrs X’s complaint. This is because the complaint is late and it is reasonable for her to use the legal remedy available.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman