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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Handbook

Information & Inspection Powers: Penalties: When is a penalty chargeable: Deliberate obstruction of a tribunal-approved inspection

A person deliberately obstructs an officer in the course of an inspection, see CH25700, if the person

  • is aware that the officer is conducting an inspection approved by the tribunal, and
  • prevents the officer from doing anything that they reasonably and legitimately need to do in order to complete the inspection.

A person is not liable to a penalty if there is a reasonable excuse, see CH26300, for the obstruction or the obstruction is not deliberate, for example if the person is taken ill.

The course of an inspection begins

  • at the agreed date and time, or
  • at the date and time specified in the notice.

The course of an inspection ends when the officer indicates that it has ended or when the time allowed by the tribunal for the inspection expires, whichever is the earlier.

The officer will normally indicate the inspection has ended just before they finally leave the premises. An inspection does not end simply because the officer leaves the premises, for example, for lunch or at the end of the day if the inspection is incomplete.