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information for businesses covered by the ombudsman service

This section answers a number of frequently-asked questions (FAQs) about:

how we handle cases

the time it takes

how long will you take to resolve a case, once it's been referred to you?

This depends largely on whether you and the consumer both agree, at an early stage, to any recommendation or informal settlement that we may suggest - or whether either of you request a more formal review, including an "appeal" to an ombudsman.

The more formal stage may involve detailed investigations and reviews, which can be a drawn-out and lengthy procedure. Some cases are very complex or highly sensitive and can involve hard-fought arguments and entrenched views.

Around 1 in 10 cases need an individual final decision by an ombudsman - although ombudsmen are also involved indirectly throughout the process, to ensure their approach to different types of complaint is followed consistently at all times.

Depending how complicated a case is, we can sort out some complaints within just a few weeks - and over half of cases within three months. But some disputes can take longer. How we allocate and prioritise cases is affected by the number and type of complaints that consumers refer to us.

We publish out timeliness statistics annually in our budget and our annual review - and our timeliness is monitored by our public-interest board members.