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Public Services Ombudsman Act (Northern Ireland) 2016

Section 23: Decisions taken without maladministration

This section reiterates that the prime function of the NIPSO is to investigate maladministration, save in the cases where the investigation concerns professional judgement.  There is no definition of maladministration in the Act.  There was no definition in previous legislation in Northern Ireland, England, Scotland or Wales on the meaning of maladministration.  When the Parliamentary Commissioner Act 1967 was being debated in Westminster Richard Crossman MP made this statement:

A positive definition of maladministration is far more difficult to achieve. We might have made an attempt in this Section to define, by catalogue, all of the qualities which make up maladministration, which might count for maladministration by a civil servant. _ It would be a wonderful exercise—bias, neglect, inattention, delay, incompetence, inaptitude, perversity, turpitude, arbitrariness and so on. It would be a long and interesting list.” (HC Deb 18 October 1966 vol. 734 cc42 – 172)

This has become known as the Crossman catalogue and is normally taken to be a fair summary of what comprises maladministration.

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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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