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Court of Appeal decides that the Child Support Agency does not owe a common law duty of care

DATE: 19 Jun 2007

In Rowley v Secretary of State for the Work and Pensions [2007] EWCA Civ 598 (judgment 19 June 2007), the Court of Appeal unanimously held that the Child Support Agency did not owe a duty of care to either a parent with care or her qualifying children in respect of (1) the manner in which child support maintenance had been assessed, (2) the time taken to assess maintenance or (3) the collection and enforcement of the obligation to pay maintenance.

The judgment of the Court was given by Dyson LJ (with whom Waller LJ and Keene LJ agreed).

The case had been granted permission as a test case into the potential negligence liability of Child Support Agency. The Court of Appeal upheld the decision of the first instance judge to strike out the Claimants' case.

The Court of Appeal decided that the imposition of a duty of care would be inconsistent with the statutory scheme for child support (see judgment at paragraphs 60-77) and that it would not be fair, just and reasonable to impose a duty of care (see judgment at paragraphs 77-84)

Daniel Kolinsky acted for the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (who is responsible for the Child Support Agency) at first instance and (led by Nigel Giffin QC) in the Court of Appeal.

Richard Drabble QC acted for Resolution who intervened in the Court of Appeal proceedings.

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