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HMRC internal manual

Debt Management and Banking Manual

HM Revenue & Customs
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Enforcement action: distraint: carrying out a distraint: reports of distraint calls


At the end of the day on which you have made your distraint calls

  • make a full report of the events for each case
  • note any new information that may be of future use and update the records on your return to the office.

Do not underestimate the importance of your report or confine it to `called and levied distraint’. It can provide important evidence if at some later date your actions are challenged or a complaint is lodged.

The following guide is not comprehensive but is an indication of the type of information required (and which is not already on the C204/C204a).

Where you have levied distraint

  • the name and status of the person seen
  • that the person seen

    • was aware of the liability and
    • had received a final demand notice or warning letter
  • that you requested payment in full before starting to levy distraint
  • that you explained

    • the meaning of your action and
    • the consequences of removal if the debt remained unpaid
  • that you explained that interest will continue to accrue until payment in full is made
  • the defaulter’s VAT number
  • the name of anyone who accompanied you on the visit
  • full details of any exceptional circumstances
  • answers to your direct questions about whether the goods are paid for and owned by the debtor (i.e. there is no third party interest) and whether you have seen evidence of ownership
  • the location of goods in extensive business premises, for example, room number
  • any photographs you have taken of the goods
  • the condition of the goods and their probable sale value
  • that you took photographs as necessary for referral to the auctioneer
  • that you explained the meaning of the walking possession agreement and about the calculation of the additional days’ possession costs

Then, once the costs charges have been created on SAFE,

  • record the details of the SAFE charge reference number on the computer records and
  • retain the papers until the case is finally cleared or you ask the auctioneer to remove and sell the goods.

Where you have not received payment in full or levied distraint

  • the name and status of the person seen
  • if the address is confirmed
  • an alternative address if obtained
  • if an attendance fee is payable (where you were accompanied by a bailiff)
  • the outcome of your call including details of any TTP etc
  • if there are effects, the reasons for not levying distraint
  • if hardship exists giving full details
  • if there are not enough effects for distraint

    • confirm you have seen all the defaulter’s goods
    • are there sufficient effects for distraint for a smaller amount such as you might recover by warrants of execution in the county court (give details)
  • whether a letter was left warning of CCP or referral for insolvency proceedings or a further visit
  • any other information which will be useful for collection of future liability.