Farley 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 magistrates had no such jurisdiction. ‘section 33(4) precludes the justices from investigating whether a maintenance assessment, or maintenance calculation in the current terminology, is a nullity. ‘
Lord Nicholls said: ‘The need for a strict approach to the interpretation of an ouster provision . . was famously confirmed in the leading case of Anisminic . . This strict approach, however, is not appropriate if an effective means of challenging the validity of a maintenance assessment is provided elsewhere. Then section 33(4) is not an ouster provision. Rather, it is part of a statutory scheme which allocates jurisdiction to determine the validity of an assessment and decide whether the defendant is a ‘liable person’ to a court other than the magistrates’ court.’ and ‘This statute introduced a new child maintenance scheme. The scheme was intended to provide an effective, cheap and speedy means to enforce parental support obligations. Another aim, of considerable importance, was to reduce dependence on social security and the cost to the tax payer.’

Lord Nicholls of Birkenhead, Lord Hope of Craighead, Lord Hutton, Lord Walker of Gestingthorpe, Lord Mance
[2006] UKHL 31, Times 30-Jun-2006, [2006] Fam Law 735, [2006] 3 All ER 935, [2006] 2 FCR 713, [2006] 1 WLR 1817
Child Support Act 1991 33(4), Child Support, Pensions and Social Security Act 2000 , Child Support Act 1995
England and Wales
Appeal fromFarley v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (No 2) CA 22-Jun-2005
The Court of Apeal had previously considered an appeal from the grant of a liability order made by magistrates. It had become clear that the order had been made without jurisdiction.
Held: The order must be set aside. The court had no . .
CitedFarley v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and Another CA 25-Jan-2005
The Respondent had sought a liability order against the appellant, the non-resident parent in respect of child support maintenance arrears. The appellant had asked the magistrates to consider whether he was liable to pay child support maintenance, . .
At First InstanceFarley v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Admn 12-Jul-2004
The defendant and his wife were separated. The Child Support Agency assessed the contributions he was to make, and eventually pursued him in the magistrates court for arrears. The defendant argued that whilst the Act did prevent the magistrates . .
CitedSecretary of State for Social Security v Shotton and Others QBD 30-Jan-1996
Magistrates have no power to question an assessment made by the Child Support Agency when making a deduction order. . .
CitedAnisminic Ltd v Foreign Compensation Commission HL 17-Dec-1968
There are no degrees of nullity
The plaintiffs had owned mining property in Egypt. Their interests were damaged and or sequestrated and they sought compensation from the Respondent Commission. The plaintiffs brought an action for the declaration rejecting their claims was a . .
CitedSecretary of State for Social Security and Another v Harmon and Another CA 5-Jun-1998
. .

Cited by:
CitedA, Regina (on The Application of) v B; Regina (A) v Director of Establishments of the Security Service SC 9-Dec-2009
B, a former senior member of the security services wished to publish his memoirs. He was under contractual and statutory obligations of confidentiality. He sought judicial review of a decision not to allow him to publish parts of the book, saying it . .
CitedChild 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.
Child Support, Magistrates

Leading Case

Updated: 02 November 2021; Ref: scu.242926