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24 MAY 2010

CHILD SUPPORT: Child Support Agency v Forrest [2010] EWCA Civ

(Court of Appeal; Elias LJ and Keith J; 14 May 2010)

The father was charged with failing to comply with a request for information made by the Child Support Agency (CSA) under the Child Support Act 1991, s 14A, contrary to s 14A(3).The information was considered to be relevant for purposes of the CSA forming a view as to the payments to be made to the mother in respect of the child's maintenance.  The justices found that the father had a reasonable excuse, within s 14A(4) for not providing the requested information, namely that to do so would put the mother at risk of criminal prosecution. Section 15(7) of the Act, which provides that no-one is to be required to provide information tending to incriminate himself or their civil partner or spouse was not referred to by the justices.  The CSA appealed. 

Held that the defence of self-incrimination or protection from incrimination of another person was not in principle capable of constituting a defence of reasonable excuse within s 14A(4). The case was remitted to the justices to consider whether any other defence is applicable.

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