Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission v Gibbons; Same v Karoonian: CA 30 Oct 2012

Non-resident parents in each case appealed against suspended orders of imprisonment for non-payment of child support. They argued that the procedures used were indistinguishable from those held to be human rights non-compliant in Mubarak.
Held: The Commission had not taken all alternative enforcement steps first as required by the Act, and accordingly it was ot open to it to make the application it had made agsinst Mr Gibbons.
Whilst such enforcement fell to be judged to crimnal standards under human rights law, the Act did in fact provide a sufficiently precise statement of the offence to be compliant.
The section allowed a choice between a driving disqualification, and a sentence of imprisonment, and: ‘The right to liberty is such a fundamental human right that deprivation must always be an order of last resort. The order should not be made without good reason. Given that there is this choice of sanction, the liable person is entitled to know why the option of disqualification was rejected and why imprisonment was preferred. Those reasons need not be expressed at length: all that is required is that the defendant should understand why the court thinks that imprisonment is the more appropriate choice.’ No such indication or consideartion had been given in the second case, and that appeal must also succeed.
It was also said that the form of summons indicated a presumption of guilt – it was for the respndent to show cause why he should not be committed, and ‘There would be nothing wrong with the inquiry into means being conducted by the Commission proving that the defendant has – or at some time after the making of the liability order had – the means to pay and, having established the case to answer on that, going on to consider his conduct and whether there is wilful refusal or culpable neglect. The danger is that the two stages are rolled into one – little or no evidence of means but get the defendant into the witness box to explain himself. That is impermissible muddling up . . The ratio of Mubarak is clear enough. I regret that I cannot see why the same reasoning does not compel us to reach the same conclusion here, namely that the procedures in fact adopted are frequently not compliant with Article 6.’

Ward, Richards, Patten LJJ
[2012] EWCA Civ 1379, [2012] WLR(D) 300
Child Support Act 1991, Child Support (Collection and Enforcement) Regulations 1992, European Convention on Human Rights 6
England and Wales
CitedFarley v Child Support Agency and Another; Farley v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (No. 2) HL 28-Jun-2006
Magistrates were wrong to think they had a discretion to look at the validity of a liability assessment under child support legislation. The Act gave the payer alternative avenues of appeal, and therefore the Act should be read as it stated and the . .
CitedMubarak v Mubarak CA 2001
A judgment summons, issued was issued by the wife to enforce a lump sum order made against her husband in their divorce proceedings. The judge had performed his statutory duty which included having to satisfy himself under s. 25 of the 1973 Act of . .
CitedMubarak v Mubarak FD 30-Nov-2000
In ancillary relief proceedings, where a respondent company director conceded that the assets and income of a company could be treated as his own, it could be proper to draw aside the veil of incorporation. Nevertheless the court should be careful . .
CitedRegina v A (Complainant’s Sexual History) (No 2) HL 17-May-2001
The fact of previous consensual sex between complainant and defendant could be relevant in a trial of rape, and a refusal to allow such evidence could amount to a denial of a fair trial to a defendant. Accordingly, where the evidence was so relevant . .
CitedRegina v Rimmington; Regina v Goldstein HL 21-Jul-2005
Common Law – Public Nuisance – Extent
The House considered the elements of the common law offence of public nuisance. One defendant faced accusations of having sent racially offensive materials to individuals. The second was accused of sending an envelope including salt to a friend as a . .
CitedRegina v Wolverhampton Magistrates Court ex parte Mould 1992
Kennedy LJ said: ‘the power to commit to prison [for a failure to pay local taxes] is plainly to be used as a weapon to extract payment rather than to punish’ . .
CitedLingens v Austria ECHR 8-Jul-1986
Freedom of expression, as secured in paragraph 1 of Article 10, constitutes one of the essential foundations of a democratic society and one of the basic conditions for its progress and for each individual’s self-fulfilment. Subject to paragraph 2, . .
CitedSalabiaku v France ECHR 7-Oct-1988
A Zairese national living in Paris, went to the airport to collect, as he said, a parcel of foodstuffs sent from Africa. He could not find this, but was shown a locked trunk, which he was advised to leave alone. He however took possession of it, . .
CitedSheldrake v Director of Public Prosecutions; Attorney General’s Reference No 4 of 2002 HL 14-Oct-2004
Appeals were brought complaining as to the apparent reversal of the burden of proof in road traffic cases and in cases under the Terrorism Acts. Was a legal or an evidential burden placed on a defendant?
Held: Lord Bingham of Cornhill said: . .
CitedKeogh v Regina CACD 7-Mar-2007
The defendant was charged under the 1989 Act. He complained that the effect of the Act was to put an unfair burden on him to establish that he was unaware of the damaging effects of disclosure.
Held: The Act did not comply with the defendant’s . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Child Support, Human Rights, Magistrates

Leading Case

Updated: 02 November 2021; Ref: scu.465555