Federal Magistrates Court case- extending full and frank disclosure to child support reviews
Federal Magistrate Slack in Humphries and Berry (SSAT appeal) has held that the principle of disclosure applies to the whole of the review process of child support assessments, including the proceedings before the Social Security Appeals Tribunal.
The principle of disclosure includes where a party is required to make full and frank disclosure of their financial circumstances in a timely manner to the other party. It has been described as a case of “show and tell” not “hide and seek” described as a case of “show and tell” not “hide and seek”.
Federal Magistrate Slack said:
I consider that these principles applicable to full and frank disclosure in proceedings in the Family Court have the same force in administrative review hearings under the Child Support Registration and Collection Act including appeal hearings by the SSAT.
Although the SSAT has the power to obtain information (s.103K) and the power to require the Child Support Registrar to exercise powers under the Assessment Act and the Child Support Registration and Collection Act for the purposes of gaining information relevant to a review (s.103L), there nevertheless remains a primary duty and obligation on the parties to the review to make a full and complete disclosure of their financial affairs relevant to the matter before the hearing and a duty to assist the Tribunal to come to its determination in the application. The obligation to disclose information and documents extends to the presentation of that material in a way that the true nature of their financial affairs can be readily understood.
The obligation extends not just to providing financial records but also includes presenting the information in a way that can be reasonably and readily understood and examined.