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HMRC internal manual

Child Benefit Technical Manual

Misrepresentation and failure to disclose - General considerations: Balance of probabilities

R (1) 2/51, R (SB) 33/85

When considering the evidence the officer of Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs should bear in mind that

  • there is no general rule of law that corroboration of a claimant’s own evidence is necessary
  • the strict rules of evidence do not apply to the decision making authorities,
  • the standard of proof required in decision making is less stringent than that required in criminal proceedings,
  • a case should be decided on the balance of probabilities and not beyond reasonable doubt.


A claimant’s evidence should only be rejected when it is self-contradictory, or inherently improbable.

Where there is no evidence to support a claimant’s statement, the officer of Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs should consider all the relevant circumstances before deciding to accept it on the balance of probabilities. For example;

  • The claimant has in the past failed to report when her children leave full time non- advanced education. On this occasion she says that she told the office in writing that her youngest child finished non-advanced education but no record of disclosure can be found. It is decided, on a balance of probability, that the claimant’s evidence is inherently improbable and that she did not disclose the latest change in her earnings.
  • A claimant interviewed in connection with an overpayment of benefit says that the change in circumstances leading to the overpayment was reported to CBO in a letter. But in a later interview the claimant alleges that they telephoned the CBO and reported the change. No trace of either disclosure can be found. It is decided that the two statements are self-contradictory and, on a balance of probabilities, no disclosure of the material fact took place.