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HMRC internal manual

Debt Management and Banking Manual

Debt and return pursuit: Child Benefit overpayments: pre-enforcement activity: referring a case for enforcement

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

This section deals with the preparation of cases for referral to either:

  • the county court section (for England and Wales cases)
  • Dumfries Direct Taxes Office (where the customer resides in Scotland)
  • EIS Edinburgh (Belfast Team) (where the customer resides in Northern Ireland (NI)).

Note: Application to the court for an order under CPR70.5 (DMBM557940) must be made within six years of the date that the outcome decision was made. Debts become ‘time barred’ after this date.

Documents required

You should provide the county court section/Dumfries DTO/EIS Edinburgh (Belfast Team) with:

  • a fully completed ‘County Court referral’ or the appropriate referral document for Dumfries DTO or EIS Edinburgh (Belfast Team)
  • two copies of the original overpayment decision, or, if more than one overpayment, two copies of each decision
  • evidence that the customer’s address has been checked within the previous six months
  • the completed reply part of a local call form.

You should:

  • ensure any acknowledgement of debt is fully recorded in the OPREC notepad and that the OPREC notepad is clearly noted “Enforcement Case. Do not action - Refer to Enforcement Team”
  • attach a screen print of the OPREC notepad.

Referral checks

Before a debt is referred as appropriate for enforcement confirm that:

  • (This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000)
  • (This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000)
  • the decision was not made more than six years ago
  • attempts have been made at different times to contact by phone
  • residence has been confirmed within the last six months
  • financial circumstances have been obtained within the last six months (provide a report in notepad if not)
  • a final warning (written) has been issued within the last three months.

You should check that OPREC is in order to ensure that:

  • the personal details are up to date (including a phone number)
  • the overpayment details are correct and match the decision
  • the notepad is fully updated
  • the correct balance outstanding is shown
  • all documents are legible.

Referral action

Immediately prior to referring a debt to the Enforcement Officer you should:

  • update the OPREC notepad
  • set an OPREC BF delayed code 1, BF Code 5 and BF period for 20 weeks.