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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 111

Ombudsman brings quick relief

By Quintus Perera – Asian Tribune

Colombo, 11 April, ( While laws delays could be attributed to lawyers and litigations usually take a long time to settle, the concept of ombudsman is now proving to bring in quick relief said Dr Wickrama Weerasuriya, Insurance Ombudsman, while addressing the Key Person’s Forum organized by Small and Medium Enterprise Developers of the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Sri Lanka (FCCISL) and Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FNFt).

The Forum took place at JAIC Hilton Hotel. Ms Sagarika Delgoda, Country Representative, FNF making the welcome address said that this monthly forum for public-private policy dialogue is one of the important events in the Calendar of FCCISL.

She said that their organization is working in 60 countries around the world with the objective of contributing to economic and social development of those countries.

Dr Weerasuriya continuing said that ombudsman is a greater player on alternate dispute resolution. He said that in Sri Lanka several ombudsmen operate such as Parliamentary Ombudsman, Financial Ombudsman, Insurance Ombudsman, Tax Ombudsman and Tourism Ombudsman.

He said that the discharge of services of the ombudsman depended on the integrity and the independence of the person who holds the position. He said that there are 15 insurance companies in the country and all these companies agreed to work with the ombudsman. In the proceedings of the ombudsman there are no lawyers and no legal rules and no rules of evidence. The conclusions are just, reasonable and equitable.

He said that he maintains independence and integrity. He said that when a complaint is received he writes to the insurance company, and if they do not reply within a reasonable time, he said an inquiry is set up and a written statement is insisted to find out why they do not pay.

The file is called for and by perusing the file Dr Weerasuriya said that they could quickly arrive at a decision and find out why insurance companies do not honour the claims. If it is legally possible to prescribe a payment, it would be done so.

He said that the procedure of the ombudsman is very simple and not sophisticated and saves tremendous time, unlike the harangues legal proceedings that takes ages. He said that the ombudsman is privileged to go through the files to scan through it for justices, so that the ombudsman could do it very quickly and order a cash payment out of good faith and if a legal payment cannot be made, a request would be made.

He said that except one case, in all other cases insurance companies agreed with his decisions and payments were accordingly made. He said that both parties are happy and satisfied as ombudsman saves lot of time.

He said that though ombudsman comes as the last resort and they do not inquire into a matter that is being heard elsewhere. He said that despite that while legal proceedings were going for around four year, for claim of around Rs 3 million, the claimant approached the ombudsman and appealed to intervene to get a measly Rs 300,000. In the same good faith the matter was referred to the insurance company concerned and the matter was settled with a payment of Rs 250,000.

He said that people are not aware of the relief that could be brought in by the ombudsman. He said that the parliamentary ombudsman and consumer affairs authority could be very much helpful to the people.

He traced as to how the services of ombudsman came into existence and the word has come from Sweden. In the case of ‘Duk-ganna-raala’ "Queens".

He said that there around 196 private hospitals and it would be very helpful for the people who are at the receiving end of various injustices, if an ombudsman is appointed to deal with such complaints of the private hospitals.

- Asian Tribune -

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