​When did the problem happen?

​​There are time limits for making a complaint to us, and these are set in law.

Complaining within a year


If the complaint is about the NHS, your client needs to make sure they complain to us within a year of when they became aware of the problem they complain about.

Government department

If the complaint is about a UK government department or another UK public organisation, your client needs to make their complaint to an MP within a year. The MP then needs to pass the complaint to us.

More than a year

Normally, if we receive a complaint outside these time limits, we cannot investigate it. However the law gives us some flexibility. In some circumstances, we may still be able to investigate.

One of the common reasons for why somebody could not complain to us in time is because of how long it took to go through the organisation's complaints process. Sometimes illness, or other personal circumstances, can cause delays.

If your client was not able to complain to us in time, it is important to tell us what happened so we can understand why they did not complain sooner. We will look at how much time has passed, and whether that means it is still possible for us to carry out an investigation.