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Commissioner for Older People Act (Northern Ireland) 2011

Section 8 - Investigation of complaints against relevant authorities

Sometimes complaints do not get sorted out to the satisfaction of the older person making them. This Section gives the Commissioner the power to investigate a complaint made by an older person against one of the organisations known as “relevant authorities”.

To make sure that only the most serious cases come to the Commissioner, the Commissioner must be satisfied that the case raises a question of principle.

Also the Commissioner must check that the complaint is not covered within an existing statutory complaints system.

The purpose of the paragraph 8(2) (b) of this Section is to avoid duplication of the Commissioner’s work with that of other bodies which already possess the responsibility, the expertise and the resources to act on a complaint raised by an older person.

In addition in relation to the public bodies referred to in the Act as relevant authorities, if the Commissioner believed that such a body did not take action or did not, in a timely manner, adequately investigate a complaint coming under its responsibility, the Commissioner may challenge that organisation by making representations or recommendations as empowered under Section 4(6) of the Commissioner for Older People Act (Northern Ireland) 2011 and also has the power under Sections 5 and 6 of the Act to formally Review the complaint procedures of the organisation.  This Review could be focussed on an individual older person’s case and the Review could be the subject of the Formal Investigatory powers contained in the Act.

However should paragraph 8(2) (b) in practice cause the Commissioner significant difficulties in acting in the interests of older people, then this issue can be raised through the provisions in the Act which enable the Commissioner to carry out Reviews of the Act on its adequacy and effectiveness with recommendations for amendments to this legislation if appropriate.  Ministers could also move ahead of the Review process to address and remedy the problem, if necessary by an amendment to the Commissioner for Older People Act (Northern Ireland) 2011.

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Text created by the Northern Ireland Assembly department responsible for the subject matter of the Act to explain what the Act sets out to achieve and to make the Act accessible to readers who are not legally qualified. Explanatory Notes accompany all Acts of the Northern Ireland Assembly.


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