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Child Maintenance Act (Northern Ireland) 2008

Section 31: Disclosure of information to credit reference agencies

Section 31 inserts new Article 45D into the Child Support (Northern Ireland) Order 1991 which relates to the disclosure of information to credit reference agencies.

Article 45D allows the Department to disclose certain information relating to non-resident parents to credit reference agencies. It will only allow the Department to disclose information relating to a non-resident parent where that person has given their consent to the disclosure or is subject to a liability order. Credit reference agencies will be able to use the information only for the purpose of providing information relevant to the financial standing of individuals.

Paragraph (2) of Article 45D specifies that the information the Department is able to disclose should meet all of the following criteria:

  • the information is held by the Department for any purpose under the Child Support (Northern Ireland) Order 1991;

  • it relates to a non-resident parent who is liable to pay child support maintenance; and

  • it is of a description specified in regulations.

Paragraph (4) provides that regulations made under Article 16(3) of the Child Support (Northern Ireland) Order 1991 may not make provision authorising the supply of information to credit reference agencies. Article 16 concerns the requiring and disclosing of information by the Department. This provision means that if the Department wishes to disclose information to credit reference agencies, it must rely on the provisions in this new paragraph. It cannot circumvent the safeguards provided by using other regulation-making provisions.

Paragraph (5) provides that for the purposes of this Article, ‘credit reference agency’ has the same meaning as in the Consumer Credit Act 1974, which is ‘a person carrying on a business comprising the furnishing of persons with information relevant to the financial standing of individuals, being information collected by the agency for that purpose’.

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