09 Mar Judicial Review of Child Maintenance Service Failings: Full Hearing Granted
A judicial review of the flawed operation of the Child Maintenance Service – the government programme responsible for the collection and payment of child maintenance between separated parents – has been granted permission for judicial review at a hearing in the High Court.
The case – brought by 4 single mothers and/or their children – challenges the delays and inefficiencies in their cases that have led to substantial arrears accruing over many years and the repeated failures on the part of the CMS to enforce payment against the non-resident parents. In several of the cases, there is a history of domestic violence and the case highlights how CMS fails to adequately prioritise this substantial cohort (60% of new CMS customers identify as victims of domestic violence) for investigation of the non-resident partners’ financial affairs and for enforcement action. The relevant legislation – the Child Support Act 1991 – prevents parents from taking enforcement action themselves, meaning they are dependent on CMS to take these steps in their cases.
The Claimants argue that the substantial record of failings in their cases amount to a breach of the government’s common law duty to promote the purpose of the relevant legislation (the Child Support Act 1991) and a breach of its obligations under the Human Rights Act 1998 not to deprive persons of their possessions; to protect victims of domestic violence; and not to discriminate against this group. They are asking the court to declare that the failings in their case were unlawful so that rigorous reforms of CMS follow.
A DPG team of Polly Glynn, Daniel Carey, Ralitsa Peykova, Catherine Dowle and (previously) Charlotte Cook act for the Claimants. Zoe Leventhal KC and Emma Foubister of Matrix Chambers are instructed as counsel.
The Order granting permission for judicial review can be downloaded here.