When a complaint is received by JO it is registered in JO’s case handling system and assigned a number (reference number). The number is used, among other things, in the communication between JO and the complainant.
The case is then handed over to the department of the Ombudsman who is responsible for the supervision of the public authority which the complaint concerns, and an lawyer is appointed to the case.
All reports are handled by experienced lawyers. About half of the submitted complaints are dismissed after an initial assessment. The complainant is notified of this decision in writing. A complaint being dismissed – not being investigated – does not mean that it is considered to be unjustified, but that it, for various reasons, is not investigated further.
The complaints not dismissed are investigated. An investigation often starts with a phone call from the investigator to the civil servant who handled the case at the investigated authority. It is also common that documents concerning the case are being requested and investigated.
The public authorities are responsible for supplying all the information and materials requested by JO, no secrecy may be called upon from the authorities side concerning cases investigated by JO.
If the collected information shows that the case does not need to be investigated further, a decision is issued. Roughly one third of all complaints are dismissed after such a minor investigation.
If the complaint needs further investigation, it is referred to the public authority concerned. This means that JO sends a copy of the complaint, including enclosures, to the head of the authority with a request for a written statement and assessment concerning how the case has been handled by the authority. If the case concerns the person who filed the complaint, the authority’s written statement is sent to the complainant so he or she has the possibility to comment upon it.
When the investigation is concluded, the investigator makes a draft that forms the basis for an adjudication. The Ombudsman makes a decision in the case and copies of the decision are sent to the complainant and to the public authority concerned.
A more comprehensive investigation normally takes between six and twelve months depending on the complexity of the case.