6.8.2 Offences Involving a Failure to Comply with Notices

Context

A person who fails to comply with a notice may be guilty of an offence.

Act references

CSA Act section 159B, section 160, section 161, section 162

CSRC Act section 72A, section 120, section 121

On this page

CSRC Act section 72A

The Registrar can give a notice to a person who owes money to a child support debtor to pay that money to the Registrar (CSRC Act section 72A(1)). See 5.2.9.

A person who refuses, or fails, to comply with a valid notice is guilty of an offence unless they have a reasonable excuse. The offence is punishable by a fine of up to 10 penalty units (see 6.8.7 for penalty unit amount) (CSRC Act section 72A(2)).

In addition to the fine, a court can order the person to pay the Registrar an amount that is not more than the amount, or sum of the amounts (as the case may be), that the person refused, or failed, to pay.

Examples: Solicitors or land brokers who fail to comply with notices issued against the proceeds of a property sale.

An employer who fails to comply with a notice to deduct from a termination payment.

Contractors who fail to deduct amounts from contract payments made.

The Registrar views a failure or refusal to comply with a notice under section 72A very seriously.

Failure to attend / provide information / produce documents

The Registrar can require a person to:

  • provide information,
  • produce documents, and
  • attend and answer questions.

The Registrar's information gathering powers under the CSRC Act and the CSA Act are discussed in 6.2.

CSA Act section 159B

If a person who has been required to give information to the Registrar in relation to an estimate of income recklessly fails to give the necessary notification they are guilty of an offence (CSA Act section 159B(1)). The requirement to notify the Registrar arises from a notice under section 160 of the CSA Act (see 6.2).

Where a person acts without reasonable care or intentionally disregards the requirement, having regard to:

  • their abilities, experience, qualifications and other attributes, and
  • all the circumstances surrounding the alleged offence,

they will be taken to have acted recklessly.

The maximum penalty is 5 penalty units (see 6.8.7 for penalty unit amount) (CSA Act section 159B(1)).

CSA Act section 160

If a person fails to comply with a notice under section 160 of the CSA Act (see 6.2) and they do not have a reasonable excuse (CSA Act section 160(3B)), they may be guilty of an offence (CSA Act section 160(3)). A person has a reasonable excuse if compliance would tend to incriminate them (CSA Act section 160(4)).

A person only needs to comply with a notice to the extent that they are capable (CSA Act section 160(3A)).

This offence is punishable on conviction by imprisonment for a period not exceeding 6 months (CSA Act section 160(3)).

CSA Act section 161

If a person fails to comply with a notice under section 161 (see 6.2) and they do not have a reasonable excuse (CSA Act section 161(3B)), they may be guilty of an offence (CSA Act section 161(3)).

A person only needs to comply with a notice to the extent that they are capable (CSA Act section 161(3A)).

This offence is punishable on conviction by imprisonment for a period not exceeding 6 months (CSA Act section 161(3)).

It is a reasonable excuse for a person not to comply if compliance would tend to incriminate them (CSA Act section 161(4)).

Example: A payer, M, is required to attend a department office for an interview to answer questions. M attends the interview but refuses to answer questions concerning assets and income. M specifically refuses to answer questions about income that may have been omitted from an estimate of income form M gave previously.

If prosecuted under section 161(3) of the CSA Act, M may be able to argue successfully that answers to the questions would have been self incriminatory and could provide evidence of offences under section 159 of the CSA Act of false and misleading statements.

CSRC Act section 120

If a person fails to comply with a notice under section 120 of the CSRC Act (see 6.2) they may be guilty of an offence (CSRC Act section 120(3)).

A person only needs to comply with a notice to the extent that they are capable (CSRC Act section 120(4)).

There is no defence for reasonable excuse in section 120 of the CSRC Act.

This offence is punishable on conviction by a fine not exceeding 20 penalty units (see 6.8.7 for penalty unit amount) (CSRC Act section 120(3)).

Order to comply with requirement

A court can also order a person to comply with a requirement under section 120 of the CSRC Act or section 161 of the CSA Act within a specified time. Failure to comply with the order of a court is also an offence.

These offences are punishable on conviction by a fine not exceeding 50 penalty units (see 6.8.7 for penalty unit amount) and/or imprisonment for a period not exceeding 12 months (CSRC Act section 121(3)), or imprisonment for a period not exceeding 12 months (CSA Act 162(3)).

Last reviewed: 20 September 2017