As a general principle, the FAO has no duty to volunteer information in relation to social security entitlements (1.1.S.70). Generally, failure to provide such advice will not be treated as negligent.
Exception: If there is a practice to provide such advice in the circumstances under consideration and the person concerned was aware of, and relied on, the practice.
The question of negligence often arises if the FAO fails to invite a person to claim a benefit. There is generally no negligent misstatement in these cases as the FAO's actions in automatically advising applicants/recipients of their likely entitlements are entirely voluntary. The FAO has never advertised or otherwise suggested that it has voluntarily assumed a strict duty to inform applicants/recipients of their entitlements unless individually approached by such applicants/recipients. The first difficulty for an applicant/recipient is to show that they were aware of the FAO's practice and relied on that practice as a basis for their actions. Also, even if the applicant/recipient relied on this, they would have to show it was reasonable to rely on the FAO's voluntary practice without querying whether they were entitled to another payment.
Policy reference: FA Guide 184.108.40.206 Duty of Care
Last reviewed: 1 December 2008