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Legal remedies

If a client feels that they have been mistreated by social welfare services or in a child welfare case, they can take the matter forward. There are legal remedies for this purpose. Their purpose is to protect the rights of clients of social services and child welfare services and to ensure that the rights are implemented.


Authorities have a duty to advise

Authorities have a legal obligation to offer advice to their clients. Children and parents must be made aware of their rights and obligations. Many disagreements can be resolved by talking directly to an official or their supervisor. However, if a client feels that their rights have not been implemented or that they have been treated improperly, they can have recourse to the legal remedies.

By law, certain decisions by authorities can be appealed against. Social welfare clients can submit a complaint or an an official complaint about an authority’s actions, and there are several bodies that deal with these.

 Social ombudsman helps in cases of conflict

Social welfare clients can turn to an impartial person if they feel that their rights have been violated. For this reason, every municipality has a social ombudsman. The social ombudsman’s duty is to promote the rights of social welfare clients by offering advice, assistance and information. A client who is dissatisfied with the service or treatment they have received can ask the social ombudsman to support them and act as a mediator. The social ombudsman’s contact details can be found on your municipality’s website.


You can file a complaint if you have received poor quality service or been treated improperly. A complaint is a quick and the main means to report grievances. It provides authorities with information about problems in their services. A social ombudsman can help with filing a complaint, as they know who is responsible for the matter, i.e. who the complaint needs to be addressed to. Authorities must always provide a response to a complaint, even if it does not lead to compensation or other action.

Right to appeal against a decision – appeal and objection

A principle at the heart of legal protection is that everyone has the right to appeal against a decision concerning them. The most effective legal remedy is an appeal, because then the decision of an authority will be re-examined. However, not all decisions can be appealed: the law defines the decisions that can be appealed against. Child welfare services make many such decisions. Once an appeal has been filed, the court may revise the content of a decision by annulling it in its entirety or by changing its content, for example.

In some child welfare cases, an objection must be filed with the local social welfare office before filing an appeal with the court. This is the complaints procedure, and it is still the municipal authority’s internal procedure. Its purpose is to allow the municipal authority to reconsider its decision before it goes to court.

However, in the case of a child welfare issue that is of particular significance in terms of the legal protection of the child and the guardian, the client has the right to file an appeal directly with the Administrative Court  without having to go through the above-mentioned complaints procedure. Such matters include decisions regarding emergency placements or restrictions on communication.

The municipal social ombudsman can offer advice on how to file a complaint. A person with low income has access to legal aid funded by the state.

 Official complaint

An official complaint is an important legal remedy for the individual as it can be used in more cases than an appeal, including cases that cannot be appealed. An official complaint is filed with a higher authority or a special authority responsible for monitoring the legality of the actions of another authority. The social ombudsman can offer advice on the correct authority in each case.

An official complaint can be filed if there is a suspicion that the authority has not complied with the law or has acted incorrectly or improperly. An official complaint can also relate to a case that is being appealed. An official complaint always results in a resolution that carefully reviews the matter and describes any subsequent measures to be taken.






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There are many concepts associated with child welfare. The glossary explains what the most important terms mean.

To the glossary