The Social Security and Child Support Commissioners
SOCIAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTIONS AND BENEFITS ACT 1992
SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION ACT 1992
APPEAL FROM DECISION OF SOCIAL SECURITY APPEAL TRIBUNAL ON A QUESTION OF LAW
DECISION OF THE SOCIAL SECURITY COMMISSIONER
"(a) that any amount, rate or period specified in the certificate is incorrect,
(b) that benefit paid or payable otherwise that in consequence of the accident, injury or disease in question has been brought into account."
Mr Toner's point was that without some signature such burden of proof as there might be on the Secretary of State to establish the total benefit said to have been paid on account of the accident could not be discharged. Were it otherwise the victim would have no basis upon which to be sure, or even be able to check, that the amounts, rates, periods and benefits concerned were accurate. He pointed to the straight-forward overpayment of benefit case where the burden was on the adjudication officer to establish what relevant benefit had been paid and when.
"Where the Secretary of State furnishes any person with a certificate of total benefit, he shall also provide the information contained in that certificate to the person who appears to him to be the victim in relation to the compensation payment in question."
Accordingly, submitted Mr Armstrong, the Secretary of State is not obliged to furnish a victim with a certificate. Only the compensator is entitled to a certificate which is the signal for certain action by him. The victim is simply entitled to be given the details that are set out within the certificate. Section 84 provides that the compensator has to apply for a certificate and sub-section (2) sets out what is to be in the certificate - and so, of course, what is to be intimated to the victim. Mr Armstrong's case was that thus the victim had no concern with the authenticity of the certificate but only with the accuracy of its contents and that was reflected in the scope for appeal under section 98(1).
"On issuing a certificate of total benefit, the Secretary of State shall be taken to have certified the total benefit as at every date for which it is possible to calculate an amount..."
Subsequent provisions allow for estimates, expiry dates, replacement certificates and the like. But that wording, to my mind, means that a document baring to be a certificate, once issued and there seems to be no dispute in this case about that, the Secretary of State is to be taken as having certified total benefit - a formulation of words which tends, usually, to preclude further enquiry into the subject certified. And had signature been of the essence of a valid certificate then as it seems to me, there would have been a provision to that effect, such as one finds, for example, in paragraph 8 of Schedule 2 to the Act where there is provision for certification of certain documents in these words:-
"A document bearing a certificate which -
(a) is signed by a person authorised in that behalf by the Secretary of State..."
If Parliament has provided in one piece of legislation for a Secretary of State's authorised signature for certain certificates but not in the case of other certificates the normal presumption, following the brocard expressio unius est exclusio alterius, is that Parliament did not intend or require that there should be signatures in the latter situation.
W. M. Walker QC
3 July 1998