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HMRC internal manual

Customs Civil Penalties Guidance

HM Revenue & Customs
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CITEX officers operational process: penalty notice: considering mitigation: is mitigation due


You should have already considered reasonable excuse, see CCPG11700. If a reasonable excuse exists, there is no need to consider mitigation as there will be no penalty to mitigate.

Mitigation must be considered in every other case.

In going through the process of considering reasonable excuse, you should have begun to form a view of whether there are any mitigating factors surrounding the contravention.

It may be that the only factors present are excluded by law for the purposes of mitigation or there may simply be no mitigating factors at all.

If there are some mitigating factors, they must be enough to persuade you that some reduction of the penalty is appropriate. You will therefore need to decide on the strength of the mitigating factors involved in a particular case.

You should consider any mitigating factors. CCPG11820 sets out examples that do and do not amount to mitigating factors.

Decisions as to whether mitigation is due should be based on evidence. The evidence to be taken into account can arise before a penalty notice is issued or after it has been issued. For example,

  • the visiting officer’s report - it is good practice for the visiting officer to note on the visit report any factors which may be taken into account when deciding whether mitigation should apply before the penalty notice is issued
  • the trader may have provided some information in response to the RTBH letter
  • a written request by the trader to consider mitigating factors may be made before or after the issue of the penalty notice
  • during a statutory review or review before the case is heard at tribunal.

When you have established that there is evidence of mitigating factors, see CCPG30400 to consider how much mitigation to allow.