​Principles of Good Administration

Putting things right

When mistakes happen, public bodies should acknowledge them, apologise, explain what went wrong and put things right quickly and effectively.

Putting things right may include reviewing any decisions found to be incorrect; and reviewing and amending any policies and procedures found to be ineffective, unworkable or unfair, giving appropriate notice before changing the rules.

The actions of a well-run public body can sometimes bear more heavily on an individual because of their particular circumstances, even though statutory duties, service standards or both have been met. Public bodies should be alert to this and respond flexibly to avoid or, where appropriate, put right any such undue effect.

Public bodies should provide clear and timely information about methods by which people can appeal or complain. They should provide information about appropriate organisational or independent ways of resolving complaints. They should also consider providing information about possible sources of help for the customer, particularly for people who may find the complaints process daunting.

Public bodies should operate effective complaints procedures which investigate complaints thoroughly, quickly and impartially; and which can provide an appropriate range of remedies to the complainant and any others similarly affected when a complaint is upheld. As a minimum, an appropriate range of remedies should include an explanation and apology from the public body to the complainant, remedial action by the public body, financial compensation for the complainant or a combination of these. The remedy offered should seek to put the complainant back in the position they would have been in if nothing had gone wrong. Where this is not possible – as will often be the case – the remedy offered should fairly reflect the harm the complainant has suffered.