Policy for Refusing to Review, or Terminating a Review Before Completion, where Complaint is Inappropriate, Frivolous or Vexatious
Effective date: January 1, 2020
The Office of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime (OFOVC) is an independent agency created to:
- Promote victims’ access to existing federal programs and services for victims of crime;
- Address complaints from victims about compliance with the provisions of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act that apply to victims of crimes committed by offenders under federal jurisdiction;
- Promote awareness of victims’ needs and concerns and the laws that benefit them;
- Facilitate victims’ access to programs and services by providing them with information and referrals; and
- Identify and review emerging and systemic issues that have a negative impact on victims of crime.
The OFOVC seeks to provide exemplary service to address complaints that fall within its mandate and to resolve issues in the most efficient manner, leading to the most beneficial outcome possible for victims. Complaints which are frivolous and vexatious can consume a disproportionate amount of resources which can result in staff being unavailable to fulfill their essential duties.
In accordance with its governing legislation, the OFOVC has discretion not to review a complaint, or to terminate a review for a complaint prior to completion. One of the factors the OFOVC is entitled to consider in exercising this discretion is the nature and seriousness of the issue raised. The purpose of this Policy is to establish the process to be followed, and considerations to be addressed, in handling complaints that are outside the mandate of the OFOVC, have already been dealt with by the OFOVC or would be better dealt by another agency, or that are trivial, frivolous and/or vexatious. .
For the purpose of exercising the discretion to refuse to review a complaint, in whole or in part, or to terminate a review prior to completion, the Ombudsman or their delegate may consider the following general parameters. Specifically, the Ombudsman or their delegate may refuse to deal with a complaint where they consider that the complaint:
Is not within the mandate of the OFOVC
- Does not relate to matters of federal jurisdiction;
- Relates to a matter specifically removed from the OFOVC jurisdiction pursuant to section 5(1), (2) of Terms and Conditions of Employment of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime, SOR/2007-54; or
- Otherwise does not fall within the mandate of the OFOVC
Has been adequately dealt with, according to OFOVC procedures
- Following an assessment of what procedures have already been undertaken and whether those are satisfactory; and/or
- Following an assessment of whether the nature of the complaint is more suited to another process or agency.
- On its face, is of no consequence; and/or raises trifling or inconsiderable issues.
- On its face, is devoid of substance and has no serious or reasonable purpose; has no realistic prospect of success; lacks a factual basis and has insufficient level of plausibility; and/or is futile.
- On its face, is motivated by malice with the purpose to disrupt or denigrate the complaint process rather than seek a remedy; is an abuse of process; is made out of anger or the desire to seek retribution, with the intention to harass or annoy; is without reasonable or probable cause or excuse; and/or is often repetitive with a common theme.
Is Made in bad faith
- Implies improper conduct on the part of the complainant for an improper purpose; generally implies fraud, deception, intentional misrepresentation or dishonesty; and/or is brought with an ulterior motive.
If, in the opinion of the Ombudsman or their delegate, it is clear and obvious that one or more of these elements exist, the complaint may be refused, or a review terminated before completion.
Prior to making a decision, the Ombudsman or their delegate will review information received as part of the complaint on its merit, on a case-by-case basis. In exercising the discretion to refuse to deal with a complaint, in whole or in part, or to terminate a complaint prior to completion, the Ombudsman or their delegate will notify the complainant in writing of the intention to refuse to review the complaint.
The complainant will be provided with an opportunity to respond in writing and provide information to the OFOVC explaining why the complaint should be reviewed or continued to completion. If the complainant does not provide appropriate reasons why the complain should be reviewed or completed, the complainant will be informed of the decision not to review the complain or to terminate the review.
Roles and Responsibilities
Ombudsman: Exercises the discretionary authority established in the Schedule of the Office of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime. The Ombudsman may delegate the authority to refuse to deal with a complaint but retains the ability to revoke the delegation at any time.
Delegate: OFOVC employee delegated by the Ombudsman to refuse to deal with a complaint. The delegate is responsible for assessing complaints on a case-by-case basis to determine if, on its merit, the OFOVC should refuse to deal with the complaint. The delegate is responsible for notifying the complainant, in writing, that the OFOVC will not deal with their complaint, in whole or in part.