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HMRC internal manual

Debt Management and Banking Manual

Enforcement action: distraint: preparing for distraint calls: accompanied visits

There may be exceptional occasions when the senior debt manager considers it advisable for the distraining officer to be accompanied by another person (usually a bailiff but a colleague if necessary).

The bailiff’s role

Where you do use a bailiff his role is to

  • advise on the value of goods
  • act as an independent witness
  • remain in physical possession if close possession is required (DMBM655900)
  • assist in physical removal of goods if immediate removal required.

Distraint officer’s role when accompanied

Remember that the distraint officer is always in charge of the distraint. You must not in any circumstances allow a bailiff to

  • conduct any part of the actual distraint
  • persuade you either to levy distraint, or not to do so
  • complete any part of form C204 (distraint notice and inventory)
  • have possession of the defaulter’s papers before being passed to the auctioneer for removal (when the bailiff is acting in the capacity of an auctioneer).

Use of the bailiff’s car

The bailiff may use his own car for HMRC distraint work provided that the distraint officer

  • is not an authorised car user, or
  • is an authorised car user but is unwilling or unable to use his car, or an official car, for distraint work.

You may pay the bailiff car expenses at the rates set out in HR43206.

If the bailiff claims expenses that are in excess of the specified rates, submit a detailed report to the higher debt manager.