Frequently Asked Questions - FAQs


No. However, in appropriate cases, the Ombudsman may seek to be enjoined as a friend of the Court or interested party.

Yes. There are a number differences as stipulated below.

  1. The Ombudsman primarily addresses improper administration by public officers and offices, and does not admit complaints against private entities and persons. The Courts on the other hand adjudicate on all disputes within the law.
  2. In handling complaints arising from an administrative action, the Ombudsman goes beyond looking at the process to interrogate the soundness of the decision, while the Courts will, through judicial review, examine the decision making process.
  3. Ombudsman processes are free of charge to all citizens while Courts sometimes require filing fees.
  4. Ombudsman processes are flexible while Court processes tend to be rigidly defined by legislation, regulations and practice.
  5. Ombudsman processes are often informal and generally more expeditious while Court cases are always formal.
  6. In undertaking inquiries, Ombudsman processes are inquisitorial (can seek and obtain evidence directly) while Court processes are adversarial (rely on evidence presented).
  7. While Courts do not act on their own motion (suo motu), the Ombudsman can undertake an own motion inquiry.
  8. The range of outcomes available as remedial action for the Ombudsman is broader and wider than that available in Court.
  9. The Ombudsman’s mandate is broad and includes matters that are ordinarily unsuitable for court action (Such as rudeness and ineptitude) whereas judicial authority cannot be exercised over all matters.
  10. While Courts are bound by statutes of limitation and principles of precedence, the Ombudsman is not similarly bound and has greater latitude in remedying administrative wrongs.

Yes. Even if the position of a complainant is not upheld, the Ombudsman and the authority involved may examine the circumstances which led to the complaint. For instance, whereas the authority’s actions may have been correct, inquiries or investigations into the complaint(s) lodged may reveal the need, say, to provide more information about its policies to clients to avoid confusion.
The Ombudsman keeps records of complaints on different authorities and this helps in identifying patterns which may point to systemic problems, which if addressed will lead to changes in an authority’s policies or procedures and consequently, improved service. Therefore, stop lamenting and start complaining.

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