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Children on way to school
The CSA has been accused of letting down thousands of children

Source: BBC News
A divorced Leeds mother has failed in her legal tussle with the Child Support Agency (CSA) over maintenance payments for her three children.

The Court of Appeal in London ruled the CSA does not owe Denise Rowley a duty of care. She blames the agency for the loss of her health, wealth and home.

Her case was backed by the family law association of solicitors, Resolution, who said the ruling was "a major blow".

An appeal to law lords may follow as families try to act against the agency.

The case had been brought to try to clarify whether, and in what circumstances, families can obtain compensation through the courts in actions against the CSA.

Ms Rowley, 51, from Swillington, asked the three Court of Appeal judges to rule on whether she could bring a case accusing the agency of negligence in its handling of her claim for child maintenance.

Lord Justice Dyson said he did not think it was "fair, just and reasonable" to impose a duty of care on the Work and Pensions Secretary, whose department is responsible for the CSA.

Thousands of children have been badly let down by the CSA
Lawyer Kim Fellowes

Ms Rowley said she was initially awarded £16 a week maintenance and the assessment of her former husband's income had been incorrect, causing her financial hardship.

Kim Fellowes, head of Resolution's CSA committee, said the ruling was a serious blow for the thousands of families let down by the agency.

"The failings of the CSA are legendary and it is astonishing therefore that the government has thus far been silent on its plans to recompense those failed by it.

"For the last 14 years, thousands of children have been badly let down by the CSA.

"The government have insisted that enforcement of claims for maintenance be processed through the CSA and have utterly failed to address the real hardship and distress caused by its manifest failures."

The agency will be scrapped next year as part of a radical reform of the maintenance system, the government has said.