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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: Step 2 considering the case as a whole


Step 2 of considering the amount of mitigation due, see CCPG30420, is for you to consider the case as a whole. You should first complete Step 1, see CCPG30430, before beginning Step 2.

The guidance below sets out ranges of mitigation expected when considering the case as whole.

Are there very strong grounds for mitigation

You will be able to answer yes to this question if you have had difficulty rejecting the reasonable excuse. It might be obvious from the logic of the trader’s argument, or by similarity to other cases you have worked.

Mitigation reduces the amount of the penalty. Circumstances where you can award 100% mitigation will be extremely rare, but if they do arise, the distinction between mitigation and reasonable excuse will be very fine and should be considered carefully.

If very strong reasons exist you should consider mitigation of 70% to 100%.

Is the case for mitigation only marginal

If you have found it easy to reject a reasonable excuse, or if the degree of reasonableness is quite small, the case for mitigation is likely to be marginal and you should consider mitigation of 10% to 30%. Reducing the penalty by less than 10% is likely to be seen as trivial and an invitation to appeal to a tribunal.

Are there grounds which are neither strong nor marginal

Between the extremes of ‘very strong’ and ‘marginal’ grounds, there is a class of cases which is defined mainly by not belonging in the other two categories. These cases may be characterised as those where you found it easy both to reject the reasonable excuse and to recognise factors which indicate a degree of reasonableness. You should consider mitigation of 35% to 70% for such cases.