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Ombudsman Act - Chap 2:52





An Act to make provision for giving effect to

Part 2 of Chapter 6 of the Constitution

(Assented to 24th May, 1977)


ENACTED by the Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago as follows:

Short Title

1. This Act may be cited as the Ombudsman Act.

Mode of


2. (1) All complaints to the Ombudsman and

requests for investigation by him shall be

made in writing.

(2) Notwithstanding anything provided by or

under any enactment, where any letter

written by any person detained on a

charge or after conviction of any offence

is addressed to the Ombudsman, it shall

be immediately forwarded, unopened to

the Ombudsman by the person or the

time being in charge of the place where

the writer is detained.

Procedure in respect of investigation

3. (1) Where the Ombudsman proposes to

conduct and investigation under

Section 93 (1) of the Constitution he shall

afford to the principal officer of the

department or authority concerned, an

opportunity to make, orally or in writing as

the Ombudsman thinks fit,

representations which are relevant to the

matter in question and the Ombudsman

shall not, as a result of such an

investigation, make any report or

recommendation which may adversely

affect any person without his having had

an opportunity to make such


(2) Every such investigation shall be

conducted in private.

(3) It shall not be necessary for the

Ombudsman to hold any hearing and,

subject as hereinbefore provided, no

person shall be entitled as of right to be

heard by the Ombudsman.

The Ombudsman may obtain information

from such persons and in such manner,

and make such inquiries as he thinks fit.

(4) Where, during or after any investigation,

the Ombudsman is of the opinion that there

is evidence of any breach of duty,

misconduct or criminal offence on the part

of any officer or employee of any

department or authority to which Section

93 of the Constitution applies, the

Ombudsman may refer the matter to the

Authority competent to take such

disciplinary or other proceedings against

him as may be appropriate.

(5) Subject to this Act, the Ombudsman may

regulate his procedure in such manner as

he considers appropriate in the

circumstances of the case.

(6) Where any person is required under this

Act by the Ombudsman to attend before

him for the purposes of an investigation, the

Ombudsman shall cause to be paid to such

person out of money provided by

Parliament for the purpose, the fees,

allowances and expenses, subject to

qualifications and exceptions

corresponding to those, that are

for the time being prescribed for

attendance in the High Court, so, however,

that the like functions as are so prescribed

and assigned to the Registrar of the

Supreme Court of Judicature shall, for the

purposes of this sub-section, be

exercisable by the Ombudsman and he

may, if he thinks fit, disallow, in whole or in

part, the payment of any amount under this


(7) For the purposes of Section 93 (2) of the

Constitution a complaint may be made by

a person aggrieved himself or, if he is

dead or for any reason unable to act for

himself, by any person duly authorized to

represent him.

(8) Any question whether a complaint or a

request for an investigation is duly made

under this Act or under Part 2 of Chapter 6

of the Constitution shall be determined by

the Ombudsman.


4. (1) The power of the Ombudsman under

Section 97 of the Constitution to summon

witnesses and to compel them to give

evidence on oath and to produce

documents shall apply whether or not the

person is an officer; employee or member

of any department or authority and whether

or not such documents are in the custody or

under the control of any department or


(2) The Ombudsman may summon before him

and examine on oath:

(a) any person who is an officer or employee or member of any department or authority to which Section 93 of the Constitution applies or any authority referred to in the Schedule to this Act and who in the Ombudsman's opinion is able to give any relevant information;

(b) any complainant; or

(c) any other person who in the Ombudsman's opinion is able to give any relevant information, and for the purpose may administer an oath. Every such examination by the Ombudsman shall be deemed to be a judicial proceeding for the purposes of the Perjury Ordinance.

(3) Subject to subsection (4) no person who is

bound by the provisions of any enactment,

other than the Official Secrets Act, 1911 to

1939 of the United Kingdom In so far as it

forms part of the law of Trinidad and

Tobago, to maintain secrecy in relation to,

or not to disclose, any Matter shall be

required to supply any information to or

answer any Questions put by the

Ombudsman in relation to that matter, or to

produce to the Ombudsman any document

or paper or thing relating to it, where

compliance with that requirement would be

in breach of the obligation of secrecy or


(4) With the previous consent in writing of any

complainant, any person to whom

subsection (3) applies may be required by

the Ombudsman to supply any information

or answer any question or produce any

document or paper or thing relating only to

the complainant, and it shall be the duty of

the person to comply with that


(5) Except on the trial of any person for an

offence under the Perjury Act in respect of

his sworn testimony, or for an offence

under Section 10, no statement made or

answer given by that or any other person in

the course of any inquiry or any

proceedings before the Ombudsman

under the Constitution or this Act shall be

admissible in evidence against any person

in any court or at any inquiry or in any other

proceedings and no evidence in respect of

proceedings before the Ombudsman shall

be given against any person.

(6) No person shall be liable to prosecution

for an offence against the Official Secrets

Act, 1911 to 1939 of the United Kingdom,

or any written law other than this Act by

reason of his compliance with any

requirement of the Ombudsman under

this section.

5. (1) Where the Attorney General certifies that

the giving of any information or the

answering of any question or the

production of any document or paper or

thing –

(a) might prejudice the security,

defence or international

relations of Trinidad and


(b) including Trinidad and Tobago

relations with the Government of

any other country or with any

international organizations;

(c) will involve the disclosure of the

deliberations of Cabinet; or

(d) will involve the disclosure of

proceedings of Cabinet or any

Committee of Cabinet, relating to

matters of a secret or confidential

nature, and could be injurious to

the public interest, the

Ombudsman shall not require the

information or answer to be given

or, as the case may be, the

document or paper, or thing to be


(2) Subject to subsection (1), no rule of law

which authorises or requires the

withholding of any document or paper, or

the refusal to answer any question, on the

ground that the disclosure of the

document or paper or the answering of the

question would be injurious to the public

interest shall apply in respect of any

investigation by or proceedings before the


Secrecy of information

6. A person who performs the functions appertaining to the Office of the Ombudsman or any office or employment there under –

(a) shall regard as secret and

confidential all documents, information

and things which have been disclosed to

any such person in the execution of any

provisions of Sections 93 and 96 of the

Constitution, so, however, that no

disclosure made by any such person in

proceedings for an offence under

Section 10, or under the Perjury

Ordinance by virtue of Section 4(2) or

which the Ombudsman considers it

requisite to make in the discharge of any

of his functions and for the purpose of

executing any of the said provisions of

Section 3(4) or Section 9, shall be

deemed inconsistent with any duty

imposed by this paragraph; and

(b) shall not be called upon to give

evidence in respect of, or produce, any

such documents, information or things in

any proceedings, other than proceedings

mentioned in the exception to


Notice of entry on premises

7. Before entering upon any premises pursuant

to Section 97(2) of the Constitution the

Ombudsman shall notify the principal officer of

the department or the authority which the

premises are occupied.

Delegation of powers

8. (1) With the prior approval in each case of the

Prime Minister, functions hereinbefore

assigned to the Ombudsman may from

time to time, by direction under his hand, be

delegated to any person who is appointed

to any office or to perform any function

referred to in Section 6.

(2) No such delegation shall prevent the

exercise of any power by the


(3) Any such delegation may be made subject

to such restrictions and conditions as the

Ombudsman may direct, and may be made

either generally or in relation to any

particular case or class of cases.

(4) Any person purporting to perform any

function of the Ombudsman by virtue of a

delegation under this section shall, when

required to do so, produce evidence of his

authority to exercise the power.


9. (1) The Ombudsman may from time to time in

the public interest publish reports relating

generally to the exercise of his functions or

to a particular case or cases investigated

by him, whether or not the matters to be

dealt with in such reports may have been

the subject of a report to Parliament.

(2 )The form of statistics of complaints

received by the Ombudsman and the

results of his investigation required by

Section 96(5) of the Constitution to be

included in the annual report to Parliament

by the Ombudsman on the performance of

his functions shall be prescribed by

regulations made under Section 12.

10. A person is liable on summary conviction to

a fine of one thousand dollars or to

imprisonment for six months who –

(a) without lawful justification or

excuse, wilfully obstructs, hinders or

resists the Ombudsman or any other

person in the exercise of his powers

under this Act;

(b) without lawful justification or excuse

refuses or wilfully fails to comply

with any lawful requirement of the

Ombudsman or any other person

under this Act;

(c) wilfully makes any false statement to

or misleads or attempts to mislead

the Ombudsman or any other person

in the exercise of his powers under

this Act; or

(d) in a manner inconsistent with his duty

under Section 6 (a), deals with any

documents, information or things

mentioned in that paragraph.

Prescription of authorities subject to the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction

11. (1) The authorities mentioned in the

Schedule are authorities to which

Section 93(3) (d) of the Constitution


(2) The President may, by Order, amend the

Schedule by the addition thereto or

deletion therefrom of any authorities or

the substitution therein, for any authorities

of other authorities.


12. The President may make regulations for the

proper carrying into effect of this Act,

including in particular, for prescribing

anything required or authorised to be



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