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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Handbook

How to do a compliance check: information powers: rules that apply to all notices: resolving disputes about legal professional privilege: process when a notice is given at an inspection: before the inspection

It will be rare and exceptional for an information notice to be given at an inspection. It will be rarer still for the notice to require production of a document that might be privileged. You should only give a notice if it is reasonable and proportionate to do so and the notice is given to address an identified risk. The notice should not be drawn widely, see CH229700.

(This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000)

Before you do an announced inspection you may find it useful to discuss with the person the potential for privileged material to be required and how this will be dealt with. You may decide that it would be better to send your information notice rather than give the notice at an inspection.

You may decide to give an information notice during an inspection. For example, where you discover serious tax fraud and it would be reasonable and proportionate to secure documents immediately. A person may claim that documents required by your information notice are protected by legal professional privilege.

You should bear in mind that if documents you wish to see at an inspection are not on the premises being inspected it will not be possible to carry out the appropriate process.

You should prepare carefully for an inspection where there is likely to be privileged material. This would include taking

  • sufficient evidence bags
  • seals and
  • clean electronic media onto which records may be copied (you may want to check with the person before you arrive as to how data can be copied).

Where electronic material is likely to be inspected an LBS Audit Specialist should go with you.

See CH230320 for guidance on what the information notice should contain.