© 2018

Ombudsmen and ADR

A Comparative Study of Informal Justice in Europe


  • Draws on an original sample of recent users of ombudsman in Germany and the UK to explore their interaction with the informal justice system

  • Offers a critical European application and interpretation on procedural justice and legal consciousness

  • Explores users’ perceptions of the fairness of procedures and practices, and the significance of these perceptions for trust

  • Appeals also to those learning about ADR (alternative dispute resolution), law in context, and research methods


Part of the Palgrave Socio-Legal Studies book series (PSLS)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xv
  2. Naomi Creutzfeldt
    Pages 1-8
  3. Setting the Scene

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 9-9
    2. Naomi Creutzfeldt
      Pages 11-27
    3. Naomi Creutzfeldt
      Pages 29-52
  4. Empirical Discoveries

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 71-71
    2. Naomi Creutzfeldt
      Pages 95-115
  5. The Future of Informal Justice Systems

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 117-117
    2. Naomi Creutzfeldt
      Pages 119-138
    3. Naomi Creutzfeldt
      Pages 139-154
    4. Naomi Creutzfeldt
      Pages 155-159
  6. Back Matter
    Pages 161-192

About this book


How do ordinary people experience and make sense of the informal justice system?  Drawing on original data with British and German users of Ombudsmen— an important institution of informal justice, Naomi Creutzfeldt offers a nuanced comparative answer to this question. In so doing, she takes current debates on procedural justice and legal consciousness forward. This book explores consciousness around ‘alternatives’ to formal legality and asks how situated assumptions about law and fairness guide people's understandings of the informal justice system. Creutzfeldt shows that the everyday relationship that people have with the informal justice system is shaped by their experiences and expectations of the formal legal system and its agents. This book is an innovative theoretical and empirical statement about the future prospects for informal justice in Europe.


socio-legal administrative justice informal justice system legality alternative dispute resolution procedural justice legal consciousness germany france legal socialization European informal justice

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.University of WestminsterLondonUnited Kingdom

About the authors

Naomi Creutzfeldt is Senior Lecturer in the Law Department at the Univeristy of Westminster, UK. Before then, she worked at the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies (University of Oxford) for six years. She is currently focusing on my ESRC FRL project ‘trusting the middle-man: impact and legitimacy of ombudsmen’, which she will conclude in September 2016. Her research activities take her across Europe, engaging with ombudsmen, talking at academic conferences and planning knowledge-exchange workshops. Her interests in ombudsmen, as pathways of informal dispute resolution, have a broader scope, addressing questions of access to justice and consumer protection.  Concurrent with my work with the ombudsman community, she has just completed two explorative projects that look at consumers’ use of the Internet to achieve their goals: One project concerns citizens’ online activism (the use of the internet and social media to complain) in collaboration with Chris Gill form Queen Margaret University Edinburgh; the other concerns consumer projection in emerging economies. She is a member of the Law and Society Association (USA), the Socio-Legal Studies Association (UK) and an individual associate member of the Ombudsman Association. She is also a member of the executive committee of the SLSA, and a Fellow of Wolfson College, Oxford. 

Bibliographic information


“For someone who works as a pracademic, and so benefits from understanding both the practice and theory of ombuds work, this book is a welcome addition to the literature. … packs a vast amount of information, opinion and comment into its 192 pages. … this book will be of interest to researchers, students and practitioners who work for or have an interest in ombuds.” (Carolyn Hirst, Ombuds Research,, July, 2018)

“With this publication, Naomi Creutzfeldt brings new socio-legal insights to bear on ADR scholarship, and in particular on our understanding of the limits, and potential, of the ombud institution. … This formidable study stands, therefore, as a powerful illustration of the interdisciplinary approaches and methodological pluralism the author herself advocates if we are to identify more trustworthy forms of ADR, and, despite national differences, a genuinely transnational ‘ADR space’.” (Nick O’Brien,, July, 2018)