Britain's nine ombudsmen provide an informal and inexpensive mechanism for resolving disputes and grievances that arise between individual members of the public and organisations participating in the ombudsmen's schemes. They have been criticised, however, for being at times slow, limited, and ineffective. An ombudsman is defined as an adjudicator who is independent of the organisations he supervises and who is entitled to award compensation to complainants. In this paper, the scope of each scheme, and its strengths and weaknesses, are individually surveyed. Awareness and use of the ombudsmen among members of the public is very low, but whether they would be able to cope with an increased demand for their services without structural change is doubted.
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