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HMRC internal manual

Debt Management and Banking Manual

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HM Revenue & Customs
Updated
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Pre-enforcement: preparing a case for enforcement: Enforcement and Insolvency criteria: considering Summary Warrant or Ordinary Cause (Scotland)

Effectiveness of each enforcement method

Summary warrant (Scotland only)

This is the Department’s preferred method for recovery action in Scotland. It is quick and effective provided there are sufficient effects or an arrestable source. Take care not to incur costs that may be irrecoverable.

Only use an alternative method of enforcement if summary warrant is not possible.

Summary proceedings (Scotland only)

These proceedings are cheap, easy and effective, but can be time-consuming. Used for cases up to £1,500 where there are insufficient effects.

Ordinary cause (Scotland only)

The use of ordinary cause against professional taxpayers who would not ordinarily welcome a decree can be very effective and payment may be obtained through the issue of a summons.

Generally, you should only consider ordinary cause if summary warrant is not possible. But bear in mind that use of ordinary cause against professional taxpayers who would not ordinarily welcome a decree can be very effective. Before beginning ordinary cause consider all the information about the defaulter.

General considerations for taxpayer type

Refer to the sections below for details of what you need to consider.

If the company has ceased trading (from information from CRI (Centre for Revenue Intelligence) or another HMRC office), approach the directors for payment of the company debt. If payment is not obtained and the company has no assets, consider remission.

If the case ultimately has to go to EIS, a decree removes the need for EIS to carry out any validity checks on the assessment and helps speed up the winding-up process.

If the company has assets, whether trading or not, start ordinary cause (OC).

Limited company cases - PAYE

If there are two or more uncleared non-HMRC decrees recorded (Scotland) transfer the case to EIS. Otherwise, start ordinary cause.

For in-year PAYE cases where the estimated amount due is over £2,500, issue P101(S) in Scotland beforehand.

Other debtors with less than two non-HMRC/Revenue decrees

Where the taxpayer has less than two uncleared non-HMRC decrees (Scotland) recorded, the indication is that debts are being paid and that OC action is likely to be effective. You should therefore start OC.

Other debtors with two or more non-HMRC/Revenue decrees

The number of uncleared non-HMRC decrees should be used as a guide when deciding whether OC is going to be effective. It is important that the information is considered in the context of the taxpayer’s known profile and current circumstances.

For large payers (major businesses, Band 1 employers) the use of OC as an enforcement method should be considered regardless of the decree history.

Where the debtor has two or more uncleared non-HMRC decrees and there is evidence of property or assets (regardless of whether debt accruing or not), consider OC and transfer to EIS.

If there is no evidence of property or assets and the debt is accruing, transfer to EIS.

If there is no evidence of property or assets and the debt is not accruing:

  • if the debtor is employed, take ordinary cause and, if necessary, enforce the decree by an arrestment
  • if the debtor is not employed, consider the recovery options or potential. (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)