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HMRC internal manual

Debt Management and Banking Manual

Pre-enforcement: recovery documentation and checks: recovery proceedings (RP) check

Importance of the RP check

The higher debt manager must be satisfied that the liability is still unpaid before taking proceedings, by ensuring that an ‘RP (‘Recovery Proceedings’) check’ has been carried out.

The purpose of an RP check is to prevent complaints by not taking proceedings where the debt has already been paid, or there are other reasons for not taking the action. So it is vital that RP checks are carried out scrupulously.

Further information

If you require further information; for example:

  • taxpayer’s forename where the court requires it
  • names and addresses of partners
  • business address

phone Customer Ops.

You can do this as part of the RP check.


It is essential that you avoid any action that could attract public criticism or complaint.

As soon as you become aware of any potential case that may attract the attention of the media, the higher debt manager should telephone their Assistant Head at once with details and send a narrative report if asked.

When to complete an RP check

You should ensure that an RP check is carried out as near as possible to the day action is going to be taken. You may do it on a date earlier than that day, but the system you use must identify and take account of payments and other adjustments to the record after the date of the RP check. It must also bear scrutiny by Internal Audit and meet the requirements of Quality Monitoring.

You may also be asked to carry out RP checks by auctioneers at various significant stages of the outsourced distraint removal and sale agreements.

How to complete an RP check

The method used to carry out RP checks is for local management to determine. Whatever method you adopt, you must check:

  • the relevant accounting record to ensure that the liability is correct and properly enforceable (for example, we would not distrain for an SA charge where a return has been logged but not yet captured; however where county court proceedings are being taken see DMBM665830 and DMBM668410)
  • post in the office, both unlinked and working
  • payments held or received within the last five working days, including post-dated cheques
  • the record of overpayments, including unidentified payments.

You must also maintain close liaison with Banking Operations Direct Taxes at the AO, in case post or payments are sent there.

Whenever you complete an RP check, you must always make a note of the check on the computer record (using action code ‘RP’) and on the recovery papers.

Other considerations

Guidance about RP checks applies to all duties. Certain debts require further actions for:

Further RP checks

You should carry out a further RP check at each stage of the proceedings, for example on the morning of a court hearing, when enforcing a county court judgment, or before removal, appraisal and sale in a distraint case.