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Farley v Child Support Agency

The magistrates’ court making a liability order under s 33 of the Child Support Act 1991 had no power to enquire whether the secretary of state had authority to make the underlying maintenance assessments sought to be enforced by him.

7 July 2006

The appellant secretary of state appealed against the decision ([2005] EWCA Civ 869; [2005] 2 FLR 1075) to quash the decision of the magistrates’ court making a liability order against the respondent (F) under s 33 of the Child Support Act 1991 and deciding that they had no power to enquire whether the secretary of state had authority to make the underlying maintenance assessments sought to be enforced by him against F. The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions had laid a complaint before the magistrates’ court that the amount of £32,639.94 was due from F by way of payments of child support. F was required to show cause why a liability order should not be made under s 33. F was self-employed, so there was no prospect of recovering payments under a deduction from earnings order. F accepted that the amounts of three maintenance assessments were outstanding and unpaid, but argued that the assessments had not been lawfully made, because there was in existence a written maintenan...

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