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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Handbook

Agent operational guidance: poor agent behaviour: agent's behaviour, although legal, gives HMRC cause for concern: unreasonable behaviour at meetings

We increasingly carry out record examinations and hold meetings at the customer’s or agent’s premises. We usually try to make arrangements that suit all parties.

When you attend a meeting at an agent’s premises, or their client’s premises where the agent is present, you might find that you have been given inadequate premises in which to work, or unreasonable constraints on how you do your work.

For example

You arrive for a records examination at the agent’s offices. The agent puts you in a room that is cold, cramped, without any windows and little furniture. The agent says you have only one hour to examine the records, and you cannot take them away or use the photocopier.

You should try to find out if there is a genuine reason why the accommodation is inadequate, why you have been given limited time in which to finish and why you cannot take records away or copy them. It might be that there are no suitable rooms in which you can work and the agent has another appointment and cannot supervise copying. You might be able to find a solution, perhaps by rearranging the meeting for another time.

If you find the agent has deliberately put you in a room that falls far below what they could expect to receive at an HMRC office, and is being unreasonable about when you must finish, you should

  • decline what they offer
  • explain the information and inspection powers under Schedule 36 Finance Act 2008 you can use to progress your check, see CH20000.

If the agent’s behaviour could affect penalty reductions for disclosure, see CH871000.

There is more information and guidance on examining records at business premises at EM2925.