COVID-19 update

Our office is currently not open to visitors. We are responding to emails and are operating a limited telephone service for complaints related enquiries. Our Scottish Welfare Fund review service is available by telephone as normal.  Please read our information for customers and organisations

Decision review process

Background to the process

The SPSO believes in fairness and transparency. While we are the last stage in the complaints process and we recognise that a vital part of our role is to draw a line under complaints and issue a final decision, we also accept that that we are not infallible. The law says that people and bodies can only challenge our decisions by judicial review. We know that this can be a complicated technical process, and so we have, of our own initiative, established a process for reviewing our decisions.

Asking for a review

The timescales for requesting a review of our decision are detailed below and in our leaflet Your complaint, our decision (PDF)

Our role is to make a decision on each complaint by taking into account all the available facts and evidence.  We do this by carefully considering the views and opinions of both the person making the complaint and whoever is being complained about.

The grounds on which you can ask us to review our decision on your complaint are limited.  We will not accept a request for a review if you simply disagree with the outcome of your complaint.

This process is open to people and organisations who have received a decision from us.

The Ombudsman generally looks at all review requests. She will only change a decision if you:

  • send new information, and/or
  • demonstrate information we used was wrong, and/or
  • demonstrate we made a mistake


  • it has an impact on the original decision.

How to ask for a review

You should use a review request form (PDF). We can also send you a copy if you call us on Freephone 0800 377 7330 or call 0131 225 5300.

You should send us your review request and all the supporting information within six weeks of the date of our decision letter.  We will not accept review requests made later than six weeks, unless you can show there were special circumstances that meant you were unable to do so.

If you think you will not be able to meet the timescale for any reason, you should contact us as soon as possible to discuss this with us.

The Ombudsman will consider your request for a review and decide whether to review the decision. We will let you know whether your request is eligible – based on the above grounds. If it is, our response will also tell you whether we will uphold our original decision, change the decision, or reopen your complaint for further investigation.

We aim to respond to review requests on a timely basis, with 95% of requests being responded to within 90 working days or less, and 40% being responded to within 50 working days or less.

Judicial Review

If you want to challenge our decision again, you will only be able to do this using judicial review proceedings.  Judicial review is a form of court proceeding where a judge reviews whether a decision or action by a public body is lawful.  You may want to take legal advice before deciding whether this is appropriate in your case.

Contact us if you need advice on our decision review process.

Communicating positively

  • We are committed to providing a fair and accessible service.
  • We believe that everyone who contacts us has the right to be treated with respect and dignity.
  • We also believe that our staff have the same rights, and we must provide a safe working environment for our staff.
  • We must also ensure the efficient and effective operation of our service to all our customers.

Our unacceptable actions policy explains how we address unacceptable actions towards our staff.  This can be found here, or we can send you a copy of this policy on request.

Our policy sets out the kinds of actions and behaviour that may have a negative effect and what we will do if this occurs. 

We recognise that some people may have difficulties in expressing themselves or communicating clearly, especially when anxious or upset. We also understand that some people may find it difficult to identify what impact their behaviour might have on other people. We will always consider making reasonable adjustments if we are asked to do so - but we may still use the policy if actions or behaviours are having a negative effect on our staff or our work.

Updated: March 29, 2021