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Frequently asked questions concerning the Office of the Ombudswoman

What is an Ombudsman? What is an Ombudswoman?
The post of Ombudsman was first established in Sweden (1809). The Ombudsman was appointed by the Swedish Parliament as a mediator between citizens and the 'royal' administration as an external control to the administration on behalf of the Parliament. 'Ombudsman' means 'He who pleads on behalf of another' in Swedish. The Ombudsman mediates and intervenes when citizens complain about an action or decision of an administrative authority and when a prior attempt to come to a solution proved unsuccessful.
Who is the Ombudsman?
The ombudsman is appointed by the deputies of the parliament of the german-speaking Community for a six-year term. The same person may hold the office of ombudsman for no more than two terms. He is to act independently, meaning that he may not to receive any instructions from - or be affiliated with - any other authority. The current Ombudswoman, Marlene Hardt, took office on April 1, 2017.
What are the tasks of the Ombudsman / Ombudswoman?
The task of the Ombudsman is to help achieve a more open, accessible and convivial administration. The Ombudsman may examine the action of the administration on the basis of complaints made to it or at the request of the office of the President of the Parliament of the German-speaking Community. He tries to find concrete solutions to the problems and to reconcile the views of the citizen and the administration. On the basis of his investigations, he reports to the Parlament and he sends recommendations. Each year the Ombudsman publishes a report to Parliament.
Who can lodge a complaint with the Ombudsman?
Anyone! This means every person concerned with a dispute underlying the complaint. Such persons may be natural persons, legal persons or interest groups.
Is it possible to lodge an anonymous complaint?
No. The Ombudsman processes complaints in consultation with the applicant and the administrative authority. It is therefore difficult to work with a person who does not wish to reveal his or her identity.
Which complaints can I lodge with the Ombudsman of the german-speaking Community?
The Ombudsman examines complaints concerning how the administrative authorities of the german-speaking Community, of the local authorities or of institutions of public needs function. Complaints concerning other administrative authorities - e.g. the federal State, the Walloon Region or public utility companies (railway, the postal service, etc.) are forwarded to the competent services. The Ombudsman of the german-speaking Community processes complaints that concern the actions and decisions of the administrative authorities to which the complainant objects. Complaints can also be lodged for the failure of an administrative authority to take action or the refusal to enforce a court decision.
Can I lodge my complaint directly with the Ombudsman?
No. Before you lodge your complaint with the ombudswoman, you must first contact the administrative authority or institution of public needs concerned and try to solve the problem.
How can I lodge my complaint?
A complaint can be lodged verbal of written ( by e-mail, by post or online). The ombudswoman intervention is free of charge. The plaint of a legal person or a de facto corporation is introduced by an duly authorized individuel person.
How should my complaint be formulated?
Try to be as clearly and complete as possible. Join any relevant document that might benefit the examination of your complaint. Do not send originals, but only copies of your documents!
Can the ombudsvrouw refuse to process my complaint?
Yes. The ombudswoman may refuse to process anonymous complaints. She may also refuse to handle a complaint introduced one year after the events. Complaints that are clearly unfounded will not be processed. When the ombudswoman refuses to process your complaint, you will be given a reason for that decision. If your complaint is a matter of a judicial procedure, the ombudswoman shall suspend its examination.
Does the ombudswoman process my complaint personally?
Yes.
Does the ombudswoman give legal advice?
No. The Federal Ombudsman is neither your nor the administration's legal advisor.
Does the ombudswoman request fees?
No. The ombudswoman processes complaints free of charge. You can reach her free of charge under the number 0800 987 59.
Wird die Frist, um vor Gericht zu ziehen, unterbrochen?
Nein. Die Frist um Einspruch vor Gericht einzureichen läuft weiter. Es gibt eine Ausnahme: Die Frist um eine Nichtigkeitsklage vor dem Staatsrat einzureichen, wird maximal vier Monate unterbrochen.