John speaks at the Council of Europe of the role of ombudsmen

At the meeting of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe John spoke about the role of ombudsmen. The work of ombudsmen is an important part of everyday life, helping people to resolve difficult situations. The work is often referred to as 'alternative dispute resolution' - an alternative to the costly and long process of going through the courts.

Alternative Dispute Resolution encourages the use of arbitration and mediation instead of the more confrontational process of the legal system. Many of the alternative ombudsmen are not appointed by the Government but by private companies or trade associations. They are a valuable alternative and follow similar processes to Government Ombudsmen to ensure their independence.

John said: "Many constituents ask me to forward their complaints to the Parliamentary and Health Ombudsman. However there are now other ombudsmen covering financial and consumer issues which are often funded by the private sector. There are also private arbitrators who help people to resolve and manage disputes. This is a key part of a well-functioning justice system and I am keen to make people aware of the different options open to them to resolve disputes."