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HMRC internal manual

Customs Civil Penalties Guidance

Penalty notice: introduction

A penalty notice charges a penalty for a contravention of customs law, as listed in the Schedules at CCPG11010.

In most cases we will not issue a penalty notice without first sending the trader a Civil Penalty Warning Letter, but there are occasions where we consider the issue of a direct penalty is appropriate, see CCPG23550.

We must go through the questions listed in the Customs Penalty Action Checklist (CPAC), see CCPG27220, to decide whether or not to issue a penalty notice.

If having done this, and having consulted with manager, we still remain uncertain about whether it is appropriate to issue a penalty notice, we should seek advice from the CITEX CCP Network.

Where you decide that a penalty is appropriate, the trader must be given an opportunity to provide any further information they may have which may alter the decision. This is done by giving them the Right to be heard (RTBH), see CCPG11500.

We will look at any representations from the trader and decide if there is a reasonable excuse. If we still feel that penalty action is appropriate we must first decide the amount of any penalty and then any mitigation of that penalty.

Where the trader has a Customer Compliance Manager (CCM) we must get the CCM’s agreement before issuing a penalty notice. This should be recorded on the CPAC.

If we decide to issue a penalty notice, we must store a copy of the authorised CPAC and penalty notice on Caseflow because the decision could be subject to the statutory appeal and review procedure. This record must contain enough detail to substantiate the decision.

NOTE: The penalty notice is only valid if the correct contravention is shown on it. We must check the Schedules of contraventions and make sure that we list the appropriate contravention.

Traders have a right of appeal and review against a penalty notice.

For more detailed operational guidance about

  • what a penalty notice should contain, see CCPG27210 
  • the role of the CPO, see CCPG21300 
  • the role of a CCM, see CCPG21500 
  • points to consider in completing the CPAC, see CCPG27230 - CCPG27290 
  • setting the amount of a penalty, see CCPG27300 
  • mitigation, see CCPG30400 
  • record-keeping, see CCPG30460 and CCPG30660 
  • reviews and appeals, see ARTG3000.