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HMRC internal manual

Construction Industry Scheme Reform Manual

Compliance: Overview & ‘Reasonable excuse’: Reliance on another person

Where a person has asked somebody else to do something on their behalf, that person is responsible for ensuring that the other person carries out the task. They cannot claim they had a reasonable excuse merely because the task was delegated to a third party and the third party failed to complete it.

We expect the person to take reasonable care to explain to the third party what they require them to do, to set deadlines for the work and to make regular checks on progress, reminding where appropriate. We expect the person

  • to be able to tell us what action they took to ensure that the obligation to make payment(s) and / or submit a return(s) on time was met, and
  • normally, but not always, to know the reason why the failure occurred.

If the person does this and still fails to make payment(s) or submit a return(s) on time because the third party failed, they may have a reasonable excuse. However, the person must also have remedied the failure without unreasonable delay after the excuse has ended, see CISR81110.

Remember that there is no statutory definition of ‘reasonable’ or ‘unreasonable’. Each case must be judged on its own merits in view of the person’s abilities and circumstances.