About this Office

FAQ

1. What information should I provide when lodging a complaint?
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When lodging a complaint with this Office, the complainant should provide the following information:

Personal Data

  • Name (mandatory) [For body corporate, a suitable representative should be authorised to lodge a complaint on its behalf.]
  • Postal address (mandatory)
  • Other contact details, e.g. telephone number and email address

Details of Complaint

  • Organisation(s) under complaint
  • Course of events
  • Injustice that you have sustained as a result of the alleged maladministration of the organisation(s) concerned
  • Name(s) and rank(s) of the staff concerned (if any)
  • Relevant documents, such as copies of correspondence with the organisation(s) concerned, photographs, and audio or video recordings
2. Why are the complainants asked to provide their names and postal addresses?
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The Ombudsman Ordinance stipulates that The Ombudsman shall not undertake an investigation into a complaint if the complainant is anonymous, or cannot be identified or traced. Therefore, all complainants must provide their names and postal addresses for verification of their identities before we can pursue their complaints.

3. Will my identity be disclosed to the public if I lodge a complaint to the Office?
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The Ombudsman and her staff, together with the Advisers appointed under The Ombudsman Ordinance, are all bound by law, under penalty of a fine and imprisonment, to maintain secrecy on all matters that come to their knowledge in the exercise of their statutory functions under The Ombudsman Ordinance. In this connection, all complaints received will be treated in strict confidence.

For the purpose of processing a complaint, The Ombudsman will copy the complaint form and any other information from the complainant, including his/her personal data, to the parties concerned. The complainant may, by stating his/her wish clearly in the complaint form, withhold consent to the disclosure of his/her identity to the organisation(s) under complaint. However, in this circumstance The Ombudsman may not be able to process the complaint fully or at all.

4. Are there any limits to what The Ombudsman can do?
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Under The Ombudsman Ordinance (“the Ordinance”), The Ombudsman cannot / will not follow up a complaint or commence investigation in the following circumstances:

I. Actions not subject to investigation - Schedule 2 of the Ordinance

  • Security, defence or international relations
  • Legal proceedings or prosecution decisions
  • Exercise of powers to pardon criminals
  • Contractual or other commercial transactions
  • Personnel matters
  • Grant of honours, awards or privileges by Government
  • Actions by the Chief Executive personally
  • Imposition or variation of conditions of land grant
  • Actions in relation to Hong Kong Codes on Takeovers and Mergers and Share Buy-backs
  • Crime prevention and investigation actions by Hong Kong Police Force or Independent Commission Against Corruption

II. Restrictions on investigation of complaints - section 10(1) of the Ordinance

  • Complainant having knowledge of subject of complaint for more than two years
  • Complaint made anonymously
  • Complainant not identifiable or traceable
  • Complaint not made by person aggrieved or suitable representative
  • Subject of complaint and complainant having no connection with Hong Kong
  • Statutory right of appeal or remedy by way of legal proceedings (except judicial review) being available to complainant

III. Circumstances where The Ombudsman may decide not to investigate - section 10(2) of the Ordinance

  • Investigation of similar complaints before revealed no maladministration
  • Subject of complaint is trivial
  • Complaint is frivolous or vexatious or is not made in good faith
  • Investigation is, for any other reason, unnecessary

 

5. Can I lodge a complaint by telephone?
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You can lodge your complaint by telephone if it is relatively simple in nature or you have difficulty in expressing your complaint in writing. To ensure accuracy and authenticity of the complaint points, the telephone conversation will be voice recorded and a written record of the gist of the complaint would be sent to you for confirmation. Upon receipt of your duly signed complaint form, this Office will communicate with you mainly in writing in following up on your complaint. However, if your complaint is more complex and involves many parties, or if you already have a fairly extensive history of correspondence with the organisation(s) under complaint, or if you wish to provide considerable evidence to support your case, then it would be better for the complaint to be lodged in writing or in person.

6. Why does The Ombudsman accept telephone complaints but still ask the complainant to confirm the content of the complaint in writing?
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For the sake of fairness and impartiality, and to ensure that proper records of all complaint cases are maintained, this Office considers it safer and more appropriate to communicate with the complainants and the organisation(s) under complaint in writing. Therefore, our officers will write down the gist of a telephone complaint for the complainant to sign and confirm. This should help ensure the accuracy of our records and all the messages conveyed to prevent subsequent disputes.

7. Can I lodge a complaint by email?
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You can lodge a complaint by sending an email to:  complaints@ombudsman.hk . If your complaint is lodged via email, we may consider communicating with you by open email (i.e. without encryption or password protection) if that is what you prefer. However, we do need to point out that open email is susceptible to data corruption, interception, tampering and viruses, and this Office accepts no liability for such mishaps or any consequences thereof which may arise as a result of email transmission. Should you wish to change to a different mode of communication, for example, by post, please let us know.

8. Will The Ombudsman make any recommendations after investigating a complaint case?
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Depending on the results of the investigation, The Ombudsman will make recommendations to the organisation(s) under complaint. Such recommendations can be broadly classified into two categories, namely:

  • Redress of grievances, which mainly includes issue of apologies and implementing remedial measures to help resolve the complainant's problem.
  • Administrative improvements, which include streamlining faulty procedures and rectifying administrative errors, loopholes and deficiencies.
9. Will The Ombudsman monitor whether the recommendations made are implemented?
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Unlike court verdicts, The Ombudsman's recommendations are not binding. Nevertheless, after making recommendations in our investigation reports, we will follow up regularly on the progress of implementation by the organisations concerned. Where an organisation refuses to accept, or fails to implement or act adequately on any recommendation, The Ombudsman may submit a report to the Chief Executive.

10. Who decides which public organisations are to be put under the jurisdiction of The Ombudsman?
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Any changes to The Ombudsman Ordinance including the jurisdiction of The Ombudsman are initiated by the Government on a need basis and approved by the legislature.

11. Is there any appeal channel if a complainant does not agree with The Ombudsman’s conclusion in respect of his/her complaint?
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Complainants who are not satisfied with our conclusions in respect of their complaints can provide justifications for this Office to consider whether their cases should be reviewed. The complainant may also consider seeking a judicial review on The Ombudsman's decision or conclusion.

12. With whom should I lodge a complaint against a staff member of the Office?
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This Office has a mechanism independent from the establishment of investigation officers for handling complaints from members of the public against our staff. Complaints about the work of this Office or against our staff for poor manners can be made in writing to the Chief Manager of our Administration and Development Division. The Division will launch an independent inquiry into such complaints.

However, staff complaints are sometimes caused by the complainants' dissatisfaction with the findings or conclusions of our complaint investigation. In such circumstances, it is more appropriate that the Investigation Divisions take up these complaints. If this is the case, the complainants can write to this Office and we will consider whether their cases should be reviewed.

13. Can I lodge a complaint to the Office if I am not a Hong Kong resident?
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Regardless of your nationality or whether you are a Hong Kong permanent resident, you may lodge a complaint to this Office if you are dissatisfied with any maladministration by Government departments and the public organisations under The Ombudsman's purview.

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