Legal cartoons and humorous comment (c) Paul Brennan. All rights reserved.

I decided on 101 reasons as I didn’t want to depress the entire legal profession by having 1,001.
Paul Brennan, Lawyer, Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Ombudsman - The Great Pretender ....sometimes

Dear John

As a reward for long government service, I have been offered the job of Ombudsman. However, it sounds a little bit too challenging this near to my retirement. I am concerned that it may be too taxing and argumentative.

O.

Dear O.

In days of old there were knights who were bold, but also there were many knights who just pottered around their castles and occasionally girded their loins to attend banquets. Whether they lacked inclination or funds, they were still knights; such is the power of branding.

The Ombudsman is not an advocate for complainants nor is he there to stick up for government departments. He is somewhere in the politically correct but potentially ineffective middle. Doing anything while maintaining your independence with both sides can be difficult, therefore, doing nothing can be an attractive and sensible option for some Ombudsmen bearing in mind that most complainants could be classified as last resort crackpots.

Here are the seven habits of highly ineffective Ombudsmen:
  1.   Try to close complaints without doing anything at all. This is easier that you think.
  2.  Increase complaint numbers by accepting complaints by telephone, email, website, even twitter, anonymous or otherwise. Vague complaints are easier to close.
  3. Do not identify and properly resource complaints that have merit, treat them all the same and spread your resources thinly so that you can be seen to be fairly dealing with each one, albeit ineffectively.
  4. Leverage complaints. If the complaint is made too early, it can be opened, and then closed and then reopened again, once the time has arrived for the complaint to be received. So that one complaint becomes statistically, two complaints.
  5. Do not have customer satisfaction surveys unless you are forced to do so. Put testimonials on your website and issue loads of statistics.
  6. Offer training to government departments on how they can deal cheerfully but not too effectively with complaints. This will create further statistics and keep your staff fully occupied.
  7.  Some ungrateful complainants may complain about you too, label these as vexatious so that no one takes any notice of them.

As a safe, reticent bureaucratic pair of hands you may be considered perfect for the position.

JF


Extract from - I'll have the law on you -unmitigated advice on law and lawyers by John Fytit AO to be published later this year. 

(c) Paul Brennan 2014. All rights reserved. 


Note: if you are an Ombudsman and can answer “yes” to any one of these habits please consider moving over and letting someone else have a go.

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