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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Operational Guidance

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HM Revenue & Customs
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Supporting Guidance: employer compliance: guidance by subject: commencing the compliance check: preparation and issue of notes of meeting

See COG905290 for when notes of meetings are required. Where practical the notes should be prepared within 24 hours of the meeting.

The notes are not meant to duplicate all the details on the Intervention Plan, risk notes and records descriptions or walkthrough tests. Their basis should be a reflection of:

  • any ongoing issues, and
  • the investigation undertaken of inaccuracies including:
    • why they occurred
    • their extent
    • who was responsible.

The notes should

  • be prepared in the third person for example ‘Mr Walker (or ‘initials’) asked’ rather than ‘I asked’
  • be in a concise narrative (use of bullets, numbered paragraphs or headings often helps).

The notes must include

  • the date of the meeting
  • the location
  • the people present and their role
  • time the meeting started and finished
  • how and when the employer/contractor was given the opportunity to disclose, including that the ‘important question’ has been asked and what answer was given
  • details of inaccuracies arising
  • issue of factsheet CC/FS9
  • confirmation of what was said regarding HRA (COG906070)
  • when the relevant penalty factsheets were issued (COG903620)
  • how culpability/behaviours were explored for each inaccuracy
  • the date of preparation
  • the signature of all staff present
  • the date of signature.

Where you discuss inaccuracies at the talkthrough and on the same day also talk to the employer/contractor again after conducting the walkthrough both meetings may be included in the same notes.

You should

  • tell the employer/contractor at the meeting that notes summarising the key points will be sent to them
  • explain they can then comment if there are any points of disagreement or apparent misunderstanding and
  • issue those copies as soon as possible (normally within 5 working days).

It is not necessary to obtain formal agreement but you may ask the employer/contractor to sign the Notes of Meeting if they agree with them and are happy to do so. If the employer/contractor is not willing to do this it is sufficient to send the notes out and allow the opportunity for comment.

You should remember:

  • misunderstandings or disputes are always possible
  • it is preferable to face objections whilst the meeting is fresh in everyone’s mind and
  • the notes may be used as evidence at a Tribunal hearing so it is only fair to give the employer/contractor an opportunity to see what has been recorded and it is important that the notes are clear, factual and must not include:
    • comments about the person interviewed
    • comments on the progress of the meeting
    • impressions formed about the honesty of the interviewee or accuracy of explanations given

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

Rough notes prepared during the meeting should be recorded on a separate sheet or on the interview brief. These notes must be retained, see COG11820.