Hinchy v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions: HL 3 Mar 2005

The applicant had been dependent upon income support, and had then come to receive Disability Living Allowance (DLA). She therefore received additional income support, but the office did not adjust that benefit down when her DLA stopped. The respondent sought repayment of the overpayment. The claimant said she had not understood the instructions.
Held: The court of appeal had been wrong ‘to overturn the decisions of the Commissioners. They have practical experience of the day-to-day working of the benefit system and I think that the principles they have devised to give effect to the legislative scheme dealing with overpayments are entitled to great respect. ‘ and ‘The claimant is not concerned or entitled to make any assumptions about the internal administrative arrangements of the department. In particular, she is not entitled to assume the existence of infallible channels of communication between one office and another. Her duty is to comply with what the Tribunal called the ‘simple instruction’ in the order book.’ (Lord Scott of Foscote dissenting) The defendant could not rely upon any conclusion that the department she was dealing was a single entity where what was known to one officer was known to each of the others.

Lord Hoffmann, Lord Hope of Craighead, Lord Scott of Foscote, Lord Walker of Gestingthorpe, Baroness Hale of Richmond
[2005] UKHL 16, Times 04-Mar-2005, [2005] 1 WLR 967
Bailii, House of Lords
Social Security Administration Act 1992 871, Social Security (Claims and Payments) Regulations 1987 (SI 1987 No 1968) 32
England and Wales
CitedR(SB) 15/87 SSAT 1986
‘It is well settled that responsibility for keeping the Department informed of any change in a claimant’s circumstances rests and remains upon the claimant . .’ and ‘. . To whom is there this obligation to disclose? We are concerned here with . .
Appeal fromHinchy v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions CA 20-Feb-2003
The appellant challenged an order requiring her to repay benefits. She had ceased to become entitled to disability allowance when it expired without renewal, and so also lost the right to a severe disability premium. She did not inform the second . .
CitedCG/4494/99 SSAT 1999
. .
CitedHarrison v Bush 1855
The office of Secretary of State is in theory one and indivisible.
Lord Campbell CJ stated: ‘In practice, to the Secretary of State for the Home Department . . belongs peculiarly the maintenance of the peace within the kingdom, with the . .
CitedFoster v Federal Commissioner of Taxation 1951
(Australia) The idea of ‘disclosure’ to a person who already knew or was deemed to know the fact at issue iss conceptually impossible. . .
CitedCondon v Commissioner of Taxation 2000
(Federal Court of Australia) The idea of ‘disclosure’ of something to a person who already knew or was deemed to know was conceptually impossible. . .
CitedCIS 5848/99 SSAT 1999
Because it was the practice of the child benefit officer to notify the relevant Social Security Office of child benefit awards, the latter office must be taken to have known of an award which was not disclosed to them by the claimant and that the . .
CitedCSB/1246/1986 1986
A benefit claimant’s duty is to comply with the instructions in the order book. A disclosure which would be thought necessary only by a literal-minded pedant need not be made, but the safest course is to resolve doubts in favour of disclosure. . .

Cited by:
CitedGillies v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions HL 26-Jan-2006
The claimant said that the medical member of the tribunal which had heard his disability claim was biased. The doctor was on a temporary contract and also worked for an agency which contracted directly the Benfits Agency. The court of session had . .
CitedREW, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Admn 13-Jun-2008
The claimant sought permission to bring judicial review of decisions of the Child Support Agency. He said that his payments should have been reduced for a period when he was in receipt of job seeker’s allowance. A liability order had been made . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Benefits, Administrative

Updated: 12 November 2021; Ref: scu.223140