01/07/2021:  Our general enquiries telephone number changed to 0300 369 0689. All calls to our old number are diverted for a limited period. For more information read our latest update.

Note: We are currently experiencing issues sending external emails. We are working hard to resolve these technical issues and will respond to emails as soon as the issue is rectified. While we can receive emails if you do have any concerns please contact us on 0300 369 0989. Thank you for your patience.

Who can access the Ombudsman

Who can make an application?

The Jurisdiction of the Ombudsman is limited to current and former Service personnel who:

  • have an open Service complaint or Service matter that they believe is subject to undue delay
  • want to make a Service complaint
  • want to challenge a decision made by the Service that their Service complaint was not admissible
  • have made a Service they believe was not handled correctly. The complaint must have been finally determined on or after 1 January 2016.
  • have made a Service complaint that they believe the Ombudsman should reinvestigate. The complaint must have been finally determined on or after 1 January 2016.

A Service complaint that has been finally determined on or before 31 December 2015 falls outside the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman. These complaints can’t be reopened

If the incident you want to make a Service complaint about happened before 1 January 2008 and your complaint was not submitted before 31 December 2015, the Ombudsman has no legal power to look at the matter.

This is because a Service person can only make a Service complaint if the matter they are complaining about occurred when they were subject to Service law.  Service law commenced on 1 January 2008. Prior to this, Service personnel were subject to the laws of their individual Services (Army Act 1955, Navy Discipline Act 1957 and the Air Force Act 1955.)  For incidents that occurred before 1 January 2008, personnel had until the 31 December 2015 to make a complaint and it is not possible to make a Service complaint now.  It may be possible to raise your historical complaint in another way.


Only the person who made a Service complaint can ask the Ombudsman for an investigation or review.

This means that a respondent in a Service complaint can’t ask the Ombudsman to investigate the complaint they are named in.

Respondents can contact our office:

  • for information on the Service complaints process
  • to find out how to make a Service complaint of their own
  • to provide feedback to the Ombudsman

Each Service has a responsibility to ensure that the Service complaints system is efficient, effective and fair to both complainants and respondents. If you have been named in a Service complaint and need guidance or support. You can speak to your Assisting Officer or contact your unit welfare officer who will be able to signpost you to agencies that offer help.

Third Parties

Third parties can contact our office for information or to raise concerns. But the Ombudsman can’t:

  • refer a complaint made by a third party
  • review the handling of a complaint made by a third party
  • investigate an issue raised by a third party

This is because Service complaints can only be made by the individual Service person.

When we are contacted by third parties we provide clear information on the role of the Ombudsman. We can also provide information about how an individual can make a complaint in their own right if we know.