Dr Naomi Creutzfeldt-Banda has been awarded a three year ESRC Future Research Leaders Fellowship (October 2013 – September 2016) to explore the impact and legitimacy of ombudsmen in Europe.
The office of ombudsman has become increasingly popular over recent decades to the point where it is now a highly significant and permanent feature of the legal systems in many parts of the world. As a method to solve disputes outside of the courts, ombudsman systems deal with many cases per year in both public and private sectors. Although originally established in the public sector, as a link between citizens and government institutions, the ombudsman model has, in many countries, now been adopted by the private sector too.
The ombudsman landscape throughout EU member states presents a variety of institutional and jurisdictional arrangements, operational styles and decision-making processes. Although this poses some challenges in being able to conceptualise a unified ombudsman institution, it offers distinct advantages for the study of the relationship between decision-making practices on the part of ombudsmen and perceptions of procedural justice and levels of trust on the part of users across different jurisdictions and cultures.
Despite the significance of ombudsmen to our constitutional and civil justice landscapes, very little is known about users' perceptions of the fairness of their procedures and practices and the significance of these perceptions for levels of trust in particular ombudsman offices.
This project will fill this gap, providing important data and knowledge which will be directly relevant to the development of national policies and EU level multiple networks of policy-making. It will allow Naomi to pursue, in great depth, one of her main research interests in ombudsmen decision-making and procedural justice from a comparative socio-legal perspective.