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The Child Support(Northern Ireland) Order 1991

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This is the original version (as it was originally made).

Unauthorised disclosure of information

46.—(1) Any person who is, or has been, employed in employment to which this Article applies is guilty of an offence if, without lawful authority, he discloses any information which—

(a)was acquired by him in the course of that employment; and

(b)relates to a particular person.

(2) It is not an offence under this Article—

(a)to disclose information in the form of a summary or collection of information so framed as not to enable information relating to any particular person to be ascertained from it; or

(b)to disclose information which has previously been disclosed to the public with lawful authority.

(3) It is a defence for a person charged with an offence under this Article to prove that at the time of the alleged offence—

(a)he believed that he was making the disclosure in question with lawful authority and had no reasonable cause to believe otherwise; or

(b)he believed that the information in question had previously been disclosed to the public with lawful authority and had no reasonable cause to believe otherwise.

(4) A person guilty of an offence under this Article shall be liable—

(a)on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or a fine or both; or

(b)on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum or both.

(5) This Article applies to employment as—

(a)the Chief Child Support Officer;

(b)any other child support officer;

(c)any clerk to, or other officer of, a child support appeal tribunal;

(d)any member of the staff of such a tribunal;

(e)a civil servant in connection with the carrying out of any functions under this Order,

and to employment of any other kind which is prescribed for the purposes of this Article.

(6) For the purposes of this Article a disclosure is to be regarded as made with lawful authority if, and only if, it is made—

(a)by a civil servant in accordance with his official duty; or

(b)by any other person either—

(i)for the purposes of the function in the exercise of which he holds the information and without contravening any restriction duly imposed by the responsible person; or

(ii)to, or in accordance with an authorisation duly given by, the responsible person;

(c)in accordance with any statutory provision or order of a court;

(d)for the purpose of instituting, or otherwise for the purposes of, any proceedings before a court or before any tribunal or other body or person mentioned in this Order; or

(e)with the consent of the appropriate person.

(7) “The responsible person” means—

(a)the Lord Chancellor;

(b)the Department;

(c)any person authorised by the Lord Chancellor, or the Department, for the purposes of this paragraph; or

(d)any other prescribed person, or person falling within a prescribed category.

(8) “The appropriate person” means the person to whom the information in question relates, except that if the affairs of that person are being dealt with—

(a)under a power of attorney;

(b)by a controller appointed under Article 101 of the Mental Health (Northern Ireland) Order 1986(1);

(c)by a mental health appointee, that is to say—

(i)a person directed or authorised as mentioned in sub-paragraph (a) of rule 38(1) of Order 109 of the Rules of the Supreme Court (Northern Ireland) 1980(2);

(ii)a controller ad interim appointed under sub-paragraph (b) of that rule;

the appropriate person is the attorney, controller or appointee (as the case may be) or, in a case falling within sub-paragraph (a), the person to whom the information relates.

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