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Transport for London (18 016 238)

Category : Transport and highways > Public transport

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 04 Mar 2019

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate Miss X’s complaint about a personal injury while travelling on a Transport for London bus. This is because it is reasonable for Miss X to use the legal remedy available to her.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, whom I shall call Miss X, complains the driver of a Transport for London (TfL) bus stopped unexpectedly, causing Miss X and her daughter to bang their heads.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. The Local Government Act 1974 sets out the Ombudsman’s powers but also imposes restrictions on what she can investigate.
  2. 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))

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered Miss X’s complaint to the Ombudsman and the information she provided. I also gave Miss X the opportunity to comment on a draft statement before reaching a final decision on her complaint.

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What I found

  1. Miss X says the driver of a TfL bus stopped unexpectedly, causing Miss X and her daughter to bang their heads. Miss X says she has been suffering from headaches and has had to take time off work.
  2. If Miss X believes she suffered a personal injury because of negligence by the bus company contracted to TfL, she may make a claim in court.
  3. The Ombudsman does have discretion to consider Miss X’s complaint, even though there is a legal remedy available. But I will not exercise the discretion open to me. This is because adjudication on questions of negligence usually involves making decisions on contested questions of fact and law. These require the more stringent and structured procedures of civil litigation for their proper determination.
  4. Also, only a court could determine if the driver has been negligent, and what damages, if any, must be paid. The Ombudsman has no powers to enforce such an award. An investigation by the Ombudsman is not therefore appropriate.

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Final decision

  1. The Ombudsman will not investigate Miss X’s complaint. This is because it is reasonable for Miss X to use the legal remedy available to her.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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