The term 'Maladministration' is not defined in the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman Act 2002.
Nor was it defined in previous Ombudsman legislation, e.g. the Parliamentary Commissioner Act 1967.
When the 1967 Act was being taken through the UK Parliament, Mr Crossman, as Leader of the House of
Commons, gave the following examples of maladministration:
'bias, neglect, inattention, delay, incompetence, ineptitude, perversity, turpitude and arbitrariness and so on'.
This is known as the 'Crossman catalogue'.
Additional examples of maladministration were quoted in the UK Parliamentary Ombudsman's annual report
• rudeness (although that is a matter of degree);
• unwillingness to treat the complainant as a person with rights;
• refusal to answer reasonable questions;
• neglecting to inform a complainant on request of his or her rights or entitlements;
• knowingly giving advice which is misleading or inadequate;
• ignoring valid advice or overruling considerations which would produce an uncomfortable result for the
• offering no redress or manifestly disproportionate redress;
• showing bias because of colour, sex, or any other grounds;
• omission to notify those who thereby lost a right of appeal;
• refusal to inform adequately of the right of appeal;
• faulty procedures;
• failure by management to monitor compliance with adequate procedures;
• cavalier disregard of guidance which is intended to be followed in the interest of equitable treatment of
those who use a service;
• partiality; and
• failure to mitigate the effects of rigid adherence to the letter of the law where this produces manifestly
This above list is provided as guidance by the Scottish Executive Legal and Parliamentary Services
Department and can be found in Annex B: "Examples of maladministration" in the Circular by clicking on the
"A modern complaints system. The new Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (link)"
or this circular can be found at the Scottish Executive Publications web site:
The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman web site, until recently, had a link to the Scottish Executive
Circular which details what maladministration is, but now even that has been removed and is not available to
If the public do not know what maladministration is, then the public are going to find it very
difficult to make a valid complaint.
The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman web site does not advise the public what would constitute a valid
complaint of maladministration. Why?
The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) Glossary of Terms (link) also defines "Maladministration"
"bad, inefficient or dishonest administration. This can cover things like unreasonable delay, rudeness,
failure to apply the law or rules properly."
When making a complaint to the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) it is important that the
complainant understands how to submit a complaint. Your complaint can be strengthened by using this
knowledge and following these steps:
Link to Step 4: Complaining to the SPSO
spso Scottish Public Services Ombudsman Watch
Campaigning for a more accountable & effective Scottish Public Services Ombudsman
|Bias, Neglect, Delay,
|Failure to follow the letter
of the Law
Definition of Maladministration