The mission of the Ombudsman, also called Mediator, is to receive claims from individuals pertaining to cases that concern them in connection with the operation of State and communal administrations or public establishments that are part of these institutions.
A person who believes they have been wronged can submit their claim to the Ombudsman either directly or through a member of the Chamber of Deputies. The claim must be pertain to a concrete case directly concerning the claimant and not to the functioning of the administration in general.
Who is concerned
Any natural person (citizen) or legal person under private law (trading company, a not-for-profit association, etc.), regardless of their nationality, who believes that they have been wronged by an administrative decision or procedure or by the behaviour of a public-sector employee.
The claimant can only submit a claim to the Ombudsman after having first asked the concerned authority to clarify or modify their position. If that request remains unanswered, or if the claimant considers the response to be unsatisfactory, the case may be referred to the Ombudsman.
How to proceed
Formulation of the claim
The author of the grievance may refer the matter to the Ombudsman in the form of an individual written claim or by giving an oral statement to the Ombudsman's secretary on appointment.
Written claims may be filed in Luxembourgish, French, German and English. An electronic application form is also available on the website of the Ombudsman.
Oral claims may be submitted only by appointment. They may also be submitted in another foreign language on condition that the claimant is accompanied by an interpreter.
The claim must be accompanied by:
- a summary of the disputed facts;
- supporting documents such as letters and disputed administrative decisions.
When the Ombudsman believes a claim is not justified, they will inform the claimant accordingly, providing reasons for their decision.
An Ombudsman's decision not to pursue a claim may not be appealed before a court.
Consequences of referrals to the Ombudsman
If the Ombudsman deems that a claim is admissible and founded, they will send their recommendations to the authorities in question, with a view to settling the dispute amicably.
The recommendations maybe include proposals for improving the operation of the department in question. Their purpose is to encourage the authorities concerned to re-examine the disputed decision and thus revise their initial position.
The Ombudsman should be informed of the follow-up given to their intervention within a time frame that it sets.
They must inform the author of the claim in writing of the follow up given to their proposal.
When there is no satisfactory response within the time limit they have set, or when no action is taken by the administration in response to the Ombudsman's intervention, the Ombudsman may publish their recommendations.
In their effort to adhere to the principle of equity, the Ombudsman may make recommendations that go beyond the overly strict application of the law, but without disregarding the will or intention of the original lawmaker.
The Ombudsman is neither a judge nor an arbitrator, and cannot intervene in legal proceedings. However, in the event of a failure to execute a court decision, they may order the concerned agency to comply therewith within a time frame that they will set.
Invoking the principle of equity
In some special situations and in exceptional circumstances, the Ombudsman may propose that an administration settle the claimant's situation equitably.
Indeed, in certain cases, the strict application of a law may lead to a disproportionate burden for a person when considering the intended purpose of the law. In requesting the application of the principle of equity, the Ombudsman may ask the administration to waive the strict application of the law in order to prevent an unfair situation.