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A Ombudsmann or Ombudsfrau or Ombudsperson performs the task of an impartial arbitrator . An ombudsman is a body made up of several people that performs relevant tasks. In the 1970s, the institution spread around the world. The eponymous term ombud is derived from the Old Norse umboð 'order' , 'power of attorney'.

Field of activity

An ombud ( Old Norse umboð ' power of attorney ' ) is an often voluntary task of a person in an organization or in public to prevent unjust treatment of groups of people on certain issues. Seen in this way, such an office means an impartial approach to disputes - taking into account the interests of people whose concerns as a group would otherwise be neglected due to the lack of a mouthpiece (e.g. children, hospital patients, victims of violence).

In his role, the ombudsman enables disputes to be settled in a wide variety of areas and without great bureaucratic effort.

This is done through:

  • an independent consideration of the dispute,
  • Weighing up the arguments put forward by both sides,
  • Comparison of damage, effort and cost factors,
  • Reaching a satisfactory solution,
  • or suggesting a recommended solution for the relevant case.

More and more organizations and institutions (including the UN ) are setting up a position for an ombudsman or employing entire staffs of ombudsmen. Increasingly, also fall so-called compliance officers within the concept that more than about internal audit that compliance assert that about (preventive) corruption is to prevent.

Above all, where a large audience is addressed, i.e. there is also a lot of conflict, such complaint offices are institutionalized. The media such as newspaper publishers are also increasingly employing ombudsmen. They should mediate between readers and advertisers on the one hand and editorial offices and publishers on the other. Many media ombudsmen in Germany have been part of the non-profit association of media ombudsmen since 2018 .

Institution in Sweden

In Sweden, an ombudsman is an independent government or parliament appointed ombudsman who investigates people's complaints against the administration . In this respect, ombudsmen are becoming increasingly relevant in the context of administrative ethics.

King Charles XII. from Sweden fled to the Ottoman Empire after the defeat against Russia in 1709, where he got to know the system of Muhtasib . After his return in 1718 he introduced the comparable system of the so-called judicial chancellor . In 1809 the ombudsman was appointed to assist him.

The services of an ombudsman are free of charge. They can be used by anyone. As a rule, he records complaints in person and checks whether the administration has acted legally and fairly. He then looks for a just solution that is accepted by all sides, which he expresses in the form of recommendations.

The ombudsman is only responsible to Parliament, to which he is accountable at regular intervals. Within the scope of his responsibility he may request written or verbal information from all offices, carry out inspections and demand the surrender of all necessary files. He may also carry out investigations on his own initiative.

The ombudsman is suitable for comparing political systems between Scandinavia and - for example - Germany : While in the Federal Republic it is intended as a complaint authority in a few individual cases, it can even have constitutional status in the political systems of Scandinavia. Some of the ombudsmen there have a whole staff of employees. In Finland, the role of “mediator” is even regulated by law. In this respect, it is a matter of updating the concordance model, in which suggestions from practice should also flow into the system of consensus in the administrative process. The ombudsman does not have in Scandinavia - as z. B. in Germany - only an intermediary position, but much more extensive competencies and enjoys more attention. He is allowed to conduct extensive investigations, initiate parliamentary inquiries, has the right to ask questions in parliament and in some Scandinavian countries can even introduce legislative initiatives. This must be seen against the background of the concordance model, the desire to achieve the broadest possible consensus among the parties, associations, interest groups and thus the citizens in all decisions. A fact that should not be underestimated is the strengthening of citizens' trust in politics and administration.

Ombudsmen in Germany

The model of the ombudsman became known in Germany through the introduction of the Bundestag's Defense Commissioner ( Art. 45b GG ) with the law of March 19, 1956.


In Germany there are ombudsmen who, in addition to the petition committees, support citizens in exercising their rights vis-à-vis the administration, in the states of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania (Matthias Crone), Rhineland-Palatinate ( Barbara Schleicher-Rothmund ), Schleswig-Holstein, Thuringia (Kurt Herzberg), since 2016 in Baden-Württemberg and since March 21, 2018 also in Bavaria as the only ombudsman who is not elected by parliament. An ombudsman is being planned in Berlin who will also be the police officer .

For Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania z. B. regulated the following:

“In order to protect the rights of the citizens vis-à-vis the state government and the public administration bodies in the state as well as for advice and support in social matters, the state parliament elects the ombudsman for a period of six years; One-time re-election is permitted. He can recall him prematurely with a majority of two thirds of the members of the state parliament. He is to be released from his office at his own request.

The Ombudsman is independent in the exercise of his office and subject only to the law. It acts at the request of citizens, at the request of the state parliament, the petitions committee, the state government or ex officio. "

- from Article 36 of the state constitution of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania

Prison ombudsmen

While in some states the prisons belong to the remit of general ombudsmen, ombudsmen or ombudsmen (e.g. Denmark, Austria, Poland, Spain), elsewhere there are special complaint and monitoring organizations for prisons (e.g. Great Britain).

In Germany, Birgitta Wolf in particular has long been calling for a prison ombudsman to be set up. However, a breakthrough in this direction could only be achieved in 2007, when the North Rhine-Westphalian Justice Minister Roswitha Müller-Piepenkötter presented the ombudsman for the penal system on April 17, 2007 . Like the Commissioner for the Armed Forces, he should investigate complaints from prisoners as well as prison staff . A more comprehensive regulation can be expected within the framework of the Additional Protocol to the Anti-Torture Convention of the United Nations ( OPCAT ).

Ombudsman for child and youth welfare

A network of ombudsmen in child and youth welfare was set up by the Association of Berlin Legal Aid Fund for Youth Welfare. As of July 2013, there are a total of 12 regional or state ombudsman offices in 10 federal states. This network works without a legal basis. The new Section 8b of Book VIII of the Social Code , which came into force in 2012, provides for professional advice and support to protect children and young people.

Public Service Ombudsmen

As ombudsmen against corruption in the municipal sector professional lawyers or judges a can. D. be used to strengthen the anti-corruption office in the city administration's audit office. Just like the city ​​of Hemer , the neighboring city of Iserlohn set up an ombudsman to fight corruption at the beginning of September 2010 and a judge a. D. ordered.

Ombudsmen for the fight against corruption related to criminal law take on a double function, who are simultaneously deployed by the commissioning authority to take stock to clarify civil liability cases.

There have been ombudsmen in German public research institutions since 1999. In the same year, the German Research Foundation set up a three-person ombudsman under the name “Ombudsman of the German Research Foundation” (today: Ombudsman for Science ).

The Hesse Police Department has had an ombudsman since November 2010 . The contact point for police members in Hesse is located directly at the Hessian Ministry of the Interior.

Ombudsman in Austria

The Ombudsman's Office in Austria is an organ for the control of public administration as well as an ombudsman, who is to mediate between citizens on the one hand and government offices on the other hand, when the former feel unfairly treated. Most of the federal states have joined the federal public prosecutor, only Tyrol and Vorarlberg have their own public prosecutor.

Ombudsmen in Switzerland

Several cantons and cities have ombudsmen employed under public law. The first Swiss ombudsman office was set up in the city of Zurich in 1971; The official name of the ombudsman is the person in charge of complaints . That of the canton of Zurich followed in 1978, and since then the cantons of Basel-Stadt, Basel-Landschaft, Zug and Vaud and the cities of Bern, St. Gallen, Winterthur and Lucerne have also hired ombudsmen.

European Union Ombudsman

In the European Union there are as ombudsman to the European Ombudsman . Any citizen of the Union or any natural or legal person residing or having their registered office in a Member State of the Union can lodge a complaint with the Ombudsman about maladministration in the activities of the institutions or bodies of the Community - with the exception of the Court of Justice and the Court of First Instance in the exercise of theirs Jurisprudence - Complain. Emily O'Reilly has been the EU ombudsman since 2013 . Its task is to ensure that citizens are protected against maladministration by the EU institutions and bodies. The most frequently denounced grievance is a lack of transparency due to a lack of disclosure or refusal of information.

Institution in Poland

In the area of Polish constitutional law, two main legal remedies enable the legal protection of diverse legal positions with constitutional status and other legal interests. These are - according to Article 79 of the Polish Constitution - the constitutional complaint , which is designed similarly to German constitutional law, and - according to Article 208 of the Polish Constitution - the complaint to the Commissioner for Civil Rights ( Polish: Rzecznik Praw Obywatelskich ). The ombudsman's field of activity is regulated in more detail by the law on the ombudsman of July 15, 1987. He can act if complaints from private individuals, municipal councils, the ombudsman for the protection of children's rights are referred to him or if he himself deems the review necessary by virtue of his office. It is noteworthy that the complaint does not have to fulfill any formalities, but should only reveal the complainant and the matter. The ombudsman can discontinue the procedure, refer it to the competent court, merely inform the complainant about possible legal remedies or initiate and conduct the procedure himself.

Institution in the Czech Republic

In the Czech Republic there is the ombudsman under the name: Veřejný ochránce práv 'public protector of rights' . The office was established in 1999. The ombudsman is elected by the House of Representatives for a period of six years. The candidates are proposed by the President or the Senate . The ombudsman's task is to help protect citizens against maladministration by public and state bodies. The ombudsman has extensive rights to obtain information (e.g. force his personal presence) or to request it, but he cannot intervene directly in the processes. The ombudsman is based in Brno . The previous incumbents:

Legal Chancellor in Estonia

In Estonia , the institution of the legal chancellor was introduced with the constitution that came into force in 1938. After regaining independence in 1991, the new liberal-democratic constitution came into force in 1992. Chapter XII of the Estonian Constitution of 1992 regulates the institution of the legal chancellor (in Estonian õiguskantsler ). By virtue of the constitution, the legal chancellor of Estonia has two main tasks:

  • protect the rights and freedoms of petitioners (the ombudsman function) and
  • to review the constitutionality of laws, ordinances and statutes and, if necessary, to appeal to the Constitutional Supervision Chamber of the State Court (the initiating function of the judicial review).

The chancellor is constitutionally independent. The candidate for the office is proposed to Parliament by the President of Estonia and is elected for seven years by secret ballot. Around 40 consultants currently work in the legal chancellor's office.

Ombudsman in Albania

In Albania , the office of the Ombudsman was introduced with the 1998 Constitution . Citizens can submit complaints to this ombudsman if they see their human and individual rights being violated.

Institution in Namibia

In Namibia , the Ombudsman is available to the Office of the Ombudsman ( english The Office of the Ombudsman ) before. According to the Constitution of Namibia and the Ombudsman Act (Act 7 of 1990), he has four tasks to perform, upon request or instruction:

  • Defense of human rights
  • Anti-corruption
  • Management problems
  • Conservation problems

In addition, there has been a media ombudsman since 2009 , who is exclusively responsible for the media sector.

Institution in Sierra Leone

In Sierra Leone , the ombudsman is available to the Office of the Ombudsman ( English Office of the Ombudsman ) before. According to the Constitution of Sierra Leone and the Ombudsman Act (Act 2 of 1997), he has to represent and mediate the public against injustices of the state and to make suggestions to the state on flawed laws.

Ombudsmen in the non-political area


Ombudsmen quickly became more attractive in the civilian sector. There are now ombudsmen in various industries. Engaging them is basically free of charge, their competencies depend on the industry. Usually the ruling is binding for the company (if a certain amount limit is not exceeded), for the customer (if rejected by the ombudsman) there is the possibility of filing a lawsuit. The 2012 amended code of civil procedure allows courts to propose an out-of-court dispute settlement to the parties to the dispute. If they decide to do so, the judge orders the proceedings to be suspended. However, the insurance ombudsman has not yet been able to take action in these cases. Because according to the old procedural rules, he was only allowed to intervene if the case was not pending in court at the same time.


Building societies

Investment funds

Energy supply company


  • Insurance contracts with consumers ( § 214 VVG , § 13 BGB): arbitration bodies organized under private law, e.g. Insurance Ombudsman e. V.
  • Statutory and private health insurance: Independent patient advice Germany ( Section 65b SGBG V)
  • Private health and long-term care insurance: Ombudsman for private health and long-term care insurance
  • Persons insured by statutory health, pension and accident insurance as well as social long-term care insurance: Federal Social Security Office as the complaints office


  • Ombudsman of the Real Estate Association Germany IVD

Deutsche Bahn

After the ICE accident in Eschede , Deutsche Bahn appointed an ombudsman for the first time, Otto Ernst Krasney .

The Arbitration Board for Public Passenger Transport eV (söp) offers its service nationwide to all customers of rail, bus, airline and shipping companies who take part in the arbitration procedure.


Since September 1, 2014, the Schufa (protection association for general loan protection) has appointed Hans-Jürgen Papier as ombudsman.


The ombudsman for science was set up by the German Research Foundation . He deals with questions of good scientific practice and scientific misconduct . It is open to anyone working scientifically in Germany, regardless of funding from the German Research Foundation.

Legal profession

In the case of property disputes between the (former) client and the lawyer arising from the client relationship up to a value of 15,000 euros, the national arbitration board of the legal profession can be called in. This includes disputes over fee bills and claims for damages due to poor performance by the attorney.

The arbitrator may not be a lawyer or have been in the last three years before taking office. This is intended to preserve independence. The arbitrator is independent and not bound by instructions. Renate Jaeger has been the mediator since the beginning of 2011 .

Nursing and social work

Since 2011, ombudspersons can be appointed in inpatient care facilities for the elderly and disabled people in the state of Brandenburg . The ombudspersons work on a voluntary basis and are intended to encourage the residents to participate in the social life of the district or the community and to support the residents' council. The ombudspersons establish contacts with actors in the social sphere, such as parishes , senior citizens' representatives, daycare centers or schools . It acts as a kind of bridge builder between the institution, the community and the city or office administration by picking up and passing on the wishes and interests of the residents.


Vienna ombudsman for financial services

The Vienna Ombudsman for Financial Services has been available on behalf of the Financial Service Providers Section of the Vienna Chamber of Commerce (WKW) for consumer inquiries in the context of asset accumulation and financing problems since 1996 . The Viennese specialist group for financial service providers advocates the creation of generally applicable quality standards and the improvement of the framework conditions for the financial services industry - on a national and international level.

The aim of the ombudsman's office is to mediate quickly and unbureaucratically - in the sense of an extrajudicial solution - in the event of investment advice problems between consumers, independent financial service providers (such as commercial asset advisors) as well as product providers and financial institutions. In addition, the review of trade licenses, the reporting of unauthorized consultants and the mediation between financial service providers and consumers are the focus of the activity.

Austrian Internet Ombudsman

In 1999 the Austrian Institute for Applied Telecommunications (ÖIAT) initiated the creation of an Austrian Internet Ombudsman . The aim was to help consumers quickly and unbureaucratically and to improve the quality of e-commerce offers in the interests of consumers. In addition, consumer confidence in the security of e-commerce should be strengthened, thereby promoting the use of e-commerce by the Austrian economy.

This concept of an independent information and advice center supported by Internet and consumer protection organizations is in line with the E-Commerce Directive of the European Union issued at the beginning of 2000. The Internet Ombudsman is now integrated into a network of European consumer protection organizations.

In 2009 alone, 10,009 complaints (2008: 7,353) on the subject of e-commerce were processed, documented and their content evaluated by the Internet Ombudsman's team. The Internet Ombudsman thus has the most comprehensive documentation on problems with e-commerce in Austria. In addition, the number of complaints processed has risen rapidly since 2005, which is mainly due to the sharp rise in complaints about alleged "free" offers on the Internet.

The Internet Ombudsman is an arbitration body approved by the Federal Ministry for Social Security, Generations and Consumer Protection, which complies with Recommendation 98/257 / EC. It is thus part of a system of organized, Europe-wide out-of-court dispute resolution. The project was awarded the Austrian State Prize for PR in 2000.

Insurance disputes ombudsman

As of February 1, 2007, the Association of Insurance Brokers will set up an ombudsman for legal disputes for insurance issues resulting from the triangular relationship between customers, insurance companies and brokers. An independent arbitration commission chaired by the previous Supreme Court judge Ekkehard Schalich examines legal disputes. The aim of the institution is to strengthen legal certainty. The quick and unbureaucratic findings of the arbitration board are not legally binding, but represent a strong moral preliminary decision.

The professional association of insurance brokers, which is part of the Austrian Chamber of Commerce, sets up the Austrian “legal service and arbitration board for insurance matters”. An independent arbitration commission quickly and unbureaucratically decides on legal disputes between brokers, insurance customers and insurance companies. The chairmanship of the commission will be taken over by the previous President of the Supreme Court and Chairman of the Senate under insurance law, Ekkehard Schalich. "Instead of waiting for the results of years of legal proceedings, brokers can turn to the arbitration board in the interests of their customers in order to get their rights faster." (Gunter Riedlsperger, Federal Chairman of the Association)

Nursing ombudsman in the health sector of Vienna

In the Viennese care sector , after various care scandals, the care ombudsman Werner Vogt, appointed by City Councilor Elisabeth Pittermann, performed similar tasks (until 2006). Konrad Brustbauer has taken over the duties since 2007.

Media ombudsman initiatives

The newspaper ombudsman of the Kleine Zeitung has existed in Austria since 1970 .


Private law ombudsmen exist, for example, for the banking sector, the telecommunications sector and the health insurance sector, as well as for private insurance and SUVA . In the media sector, there are three linguistic regional ombudsmen for complaints about radio and television broadcasts. There is also the ombudsman for the Swiss travel industry, who mediates in conflicts between travelers and Swiss tour operators.

See also


Web links

Commons : Ombudsman  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Ombudsman  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Public area

Private area

Individual evidence

  1. ombudsmen Media Association of
  2. Federal Law Gazette I p. 111 .
  4. New Ombudsman takes office . In: WORLD . May 2, 2018 ( [accessed November 27, 2019]).
  5. Herzberg remains the ombudsman . In: WORLD . November 26, 2019 ( [accessed November 27, 2019]).
  6. Grün-Rot creates the ombudsman - mediator between citizens and authorities , Stuttgarter Zeitung, December 2, 2015
  7. ^ The Ombudsman of the Bavarian State Government: Activity report of the Ombudsman of the Bavarian State Government. (PDF) In: September 2018, accessed on May 16, 2019 .
  8. Berlin should get ombudsmen and police officers. In: Berliner Morgenpost , September 11, 2018, accessed on May 16, 2019 .
  9. New contact point for dissatisfied citizens in Berlin. In: September 11, 2018, accessed May 16, 2019 .
  10. ^ Website of the network office ombudsman in youth welfare of the Berlin legal aid fund for youth welfare e. V.
  11.  ( page no longer available , search in web archives ) see legal opinion by Reinhard Wiesner , p. 11 f.@1@ 2Template: Toter Link /
  13. Iserlohner Kreisanzeiger and Westfälische Rundschau of March 7, 2009
  14. ^ Ombudswoman against corruption for the city of Hemer. ( Memento from November 18, 2010 in the Internet Archive ) . Addendum dated September 18, 2010.
  15. ↑ Local news of the Iserlohner Kreisanzeiger from September 4, 2010.
  16. Ombudsman: Buchholz is the man for all suspicious cases. ( Memento of September 3, 2010 in the Internet Archive )., August 30, 2010.
  17. ↑ appointed ombudswoman. Help for bruised balloonists ., September 15, 2010.
  18. Frank Grotelüschen: Sharpened awareness desired . Deutschlandfunk , October 16, 2009.
  19. ^ After police affairs: Ombudsman for victims of bullying - hr online [1] of November 12, 2010
  20. Archived copy ( memento of November 10, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 322 kB) 25 years ombudsman.
  21. Ombudsman for complaints and whistleblowing of the staff of the City of Lucerne
  22. (November 10, 2013)
  23. Mandates of the Office of the Ombudsman ( Memento of January 4, 2011 in the Internet Archive ), accessed on February 11, 2011.
  24. Media Ombudsman: A Worthy Experiment, The Namibian, November 17, 2009 ( Memento of December 12, 2009 in the Internet Archive )
  25. ^ What We Do. Office of the Ombudsman. Retrieved January 10, 2019.
  26. Archived copy ( memento of February 9, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) More competencies for insurance ombudsmen
  27. Ombudsman procedure for private banks . Website of the Association of German Banks , accessed on February 20, 2014.
  28. Website ombudsman for investment funds
  29. Website ombudsman for closed funds e. V.
  30. Insurance Ombudsman website accessed June 11, 2020.
  31. Those insured with private health or statutory health insurance can contact these complaints offices,, accessed on June 11, 2020.
  32. Ombudsman Private Health and Long-Term Care Insurance Website accessed on June 11, 2020.
  33. Federal Social Security Office website accessed on June 11, 2020.
  34. Spiegel-TV: 'Eschede 10:59 am'
  35. Page ombudsman on the Schufa website, accessed on October 22, 2014
  36. Law on living with care and support of the State of Brandenburg (Brandenburgisches Pflege- und Betreuungswohngesetz - BbgPBWoG), § 16 Joint participation of residents, ombudspersons, accessed on October 30, 2017
  37. Your Ombudsman: KommR Mag. Ing. Johann Wally ( Memento from April 1, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) Website of the specialist group financial service providers of the Vienna Chamber of Commerce
  38. Website of the Vienna Nursing and Patient Advocacy ( Memento from July 14, 2010 in the Internet Archive )
  39. website of the Swiss Banking Ombudsman
  40. ^ Website of the arbitration board for telecommunications
  41. Website ombudsman for health insurance
  42. ^ Website ombudsman for private insurance and Suva
  43. Website ombudsman for the Swiss travel industry