When, Why and How Can a CSA Decision Be Revised?
In general, there are two ways in which a decision of the CSA can be revised: firstly, if the original decision was made less than a month ago, or secondly if there are special circumstances. These circumstances cannot include a mistake, or ignorance of the time limit. Somewhat unhelpfully, however, there is no definition in the rules for ‘special circumstances’.
Types Of Decisions That Can Be RevisedThe majority of decisions made by the CSA can be revised. Examples include:
- decisions to reduce a benefit decision
- a decision to make an adjustment to maintenance
- a decision to refuse a maintenance calculation
- any of the decisions made on supersession.
In addition it may be possible to revise other types of CSA decisions, for example, on a variation application, a decision to impose a regular payments condition. However, in the event that you are unsure as to whether or not a decision can be revised (for example if you dispute the way in which the CSA has interpreted their own rules) it is important to seek legal advice without delay.
Timescales For RevisionsAs we have already seen, decisions are generally capable of revision within one month. It is possible for the CSA to begin to revise a decision of its own volition. If a party lodges an appeal, the CSA may in the first instance decide whether it is a decision that is capable of being revised.
Outside the one month time limit, decisions can be revised in numerous circumstances, such as if it arose from an ‘official error’, if a party gave wrong or misleading information that formed part of the original decision, or if a late application is accepted, amongst others.
Failing To Disclose Information & Providing False InformationA person can only have failed to disclose information to the CSA that he or she is required to disclose to the CSA. Therefore if the person did not tell the CSA something that they were not obliged to disclose, there will be no such ‘failure.’ It is right to say that there is no general duty to report a change of circumstances to the CSA, unless the information that has changed is a fact that the parent with care is always under a duty to report.
In situations in which false information was provided, or there was a failure to provide relevant information, the CSA can revise their decision.
Procedure For RevisionWhen a decision is notified by the CSA, it sets out the procedure for having that decision revised. It is possible to request a revision over the telephone, however it is advisable – particularly if the facts relating to the request for a revision are complex –to put them in writing as well.
If the CSA decides that the application for revision may be meritorious, they may contact the other parties involved to request representations. It is important to note that there is no requirement for the CSA to notify anyone merely on receipt of an application for revision.
It is for the person who applies for the revision to prove that the revision should be made. If the applicant does not provide sufficient information for the revision to be made the CSA may ask for further information and a timescale within which to provide it.
If the request for revision is refused, only the person who applied for the revision will be informed unless the other party has been requested to provide representations and/or further information in relation to the revision application. The notification provides reasons for refusal, and how to appeal against the decision.
Once The Decision Has Been RevisedThe CSA must notify the parties of any revision, whether or not the revision makes any change to the maintenance calculation. This notification will include information on how to appeal the revision, the time limit running from the date of the decision to refuse to revise, or the date of the notice of the revised decision, whichever applies.
Usually, the revision has the same ‘effective date’ as the original decision, unless the original date was wrong, in which case it will be replaced with the correct effective date.