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HMRC internal manual

Debt Management and Banking Manual

Pre-enforcement: consider the defaulter: customers in prison

When a customer is imprisoned for a non-HMRC related reason you should attempt to obtain payment of any outstanding debt. You should make all necessary checks for assets, including third party data checks.

Committal before proceedings commenced

Known assets or means to pay

Where a debtor is committed to prison before you have commenced proceedings and you aware that the customer has assets

  • do not attempt recovery by distraint or summary proceedings
  • commence county court proceedings in the usual way
  • issue the claim by post to the debtor (c/o The Governor, HM Prison….)

After you have obtained judgment you may enforce the case by

  • third party debt order
  • attachment of earnings order (for occupational pensions only)
  • charging order
  • bankruptcy proceedings
  • warrant of execution.

Any necessary documentation is to be served at the prison address.

Note: Registry Trust Ltd are unable to register a judgment at a prison address in the Register of Judgments, Orders and Fines, but this does not stop you from enforcing the judgment. After the judgment debtor is released, and has a conventional address, you should write to the court asking to have the judgment registered.

No known assets

If you can find no evidence of assets to make recovery, for cases in:

In all cases, provide the prisoner’s first name, surname, DOB and the reason for your request, for example; ”Need to establish release date”. If you have any other information such as which prison or the date the sentence commenced etc., also provide this in your email.

B/F the case date for 4 weeks for a reply.

Release within 12 months

If release is anticipated within 12 months of the date of reply

  • B/F the case to the approximate date of release
  • resume recovery action when the debtor is released.

Release more than 12 months away

Where the expected release date is more than 12 months from the date of reply, depending on the amount of the debt and the anticipated release date, consider

  • remission under type 4
  • whether to B/F the case to the approximate date of release.

Proceedings already commenced

Where a customer is committed to prison after proceedings are commenced continue with the action wherever possible. The following options are available depending on the type of proceedings;

  • for distraint proceed with removal and sale of the distrained goods
  • for summary proceedings by distress warrant
  • for county court proceedings by

    • third party debt order
    • warrant of execution
    • writ of fi fa
    • attachment of earnings order (for occupational pensions only)
    • charging order
    • bankruptcy proceedings.