A determination is final and binding on all parties to a case subject to a successful appeal on a point of law. This means we cannot change the determination, except for minor errors such as typing mistakes.

If you want a determination changed you must appeal to the High Court in England or Wales, the Court of Session in Scotland or the Court of Appeal in Northern Ireland.

This is a statutory right and you do not need our consent to lodge an appeal.

In England and Wales appeals against determinations or directions of an Ombudsman require the permission of the High Court.

The person lodging the appeal will need to satisfy the Court that the appeal has a real prospect of success or that there is some other compelling reason why it should be heard.

This requirement does not currently affect appeals in Northern Ireland or Scotland.

Any directions made by an Ombudsman can still be enforced pending an appeal unless the court orders a stay or sist (which applies in Scotland).

What you need to do

The Ombudsman has directed for England and Wales that the person wishing to appeal must lodge the appeal within 28 days after the date of an Ombudsman determination. Different time limits apply in Scotland and in Northern Ireland and local advice should be taken.

The appropriate courts may give an extension on request.

Parties to the appeal

The party appealing an Ombudsman determination is known as the appellant. The respondent will be the party (or parties) on the other side of the matter determined by an Ombudsman.

An Ombudsman should not be made a party to an appeal but must be sent a copy of the Notice of Appeal by the appellant. The High Court suggests that where the appellant is an unrepresented individual, the respondent should also take it upon themselves to confirm that the Ombudsman has been served with the Notice of the Appeal. This is particularly important as the Ombudsman may wish to appear on the appeal.

If you are an appellant and the court decides that an Ombudsman’s decision should be upheld then it is expected that you, as the unsuccessful party, should pay the costs of the successful party.

If you are a respondent to an appeal you have to decide whether or not to appear in person or be represented at the appeal. If you do and the court decides that an Ombudsman’s decision should be changed, you may have to pay some or all of the costs of the appeal.

If you decide not to be represented (or appear) it is not expected that you would have to pay any of the costs.

It may also be possible for you to apply to the court to have costs recovery limited in the appeal.

Our role

Occasionally we may decide to be represented at the appeal. For example, if we believe it would assist the court to come to the right decision or if the outcome of the appeal might affect how we exercise our powers. If we are represented, it will be for this purpose, not to support either side.

We do not advise either party about whether or not to lodge an appeal or the legal steps they should take. If you intend to appeal you may want to consult a solicitor, talk to your local Citizens’ Advice Bureau or contact your local law centre.

Go to useful contacts for a list of websites and other sources of information.