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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Handbook

The Human Rights Act and penalties: The Human Rights Act and deceased persons

There are some circumstances when we cannot issue a penalty after a person has died for something they did, or failed to do, when they were alive.

This is because, in these circumstances, the deceased person cannot be given the right to a fair trial.

You must not impose a penalty on the personal representatives of the deceased person for offences committed by the deceased before the date of death, if all the following circumstances apply:

  • the penalty is of the type that are classified as ‘criminal’ for the purposes of European Convention on Human Rights, see CH300200, and 
  • it is necessary to establish that the persons behaviour was careless, deliberate or dishonest, or that they did not have a reasonable excuse, and
  • they would have been personally liable for the penalty.

This does not apply to companies or other organisations where the rights of that person apply through the individuals who are authorised to act on their behalf, see CH300550.

Where an inaccuracy, failure, wrongdoing or dishonest conduct in respect of the deceased person’s estate is attributable to the personal representatives after the person’s date of death, you should impose any penalty on the personal representative in the normal way.