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HMRC internal manual

Debt Management and Banking Manual

Enforcement action: distraint: costs and accounting: attendance fees

It is departmental policy to carry out distraint visits unaccompanied (DMBM655470) but there are occasions where an accompanied visit is necessary and the question of Attendance Fees (AF) might arise.

Although regulations allow the charging of an attendance fee to the defaulter where a distraint visit is made, it is not HMRC practice to do so. Instead, by agreement with the Certificated Bailiffs Association (CBA), HMRC pays a flat rate AF to bailiffs, in the circumstances detailed below, unless the bailiff is prepared to forgo the AF altogether.

When to pay an attendance fee

Pay an attendance fee when Do not pay an attendance fee when
You do not levy distraint and it is unlikely that you will make a further distraint call, because either  
  • the defaulter is no longer at the address shown in your papers, or
  • you are informed that the defaulter’s goods have already been seized.  You do not levy distraint, but intend to make a further call on the defaulter at the same or another address.

If the bailiff forgoes payment of the attendance fee

Prior to the introduction of unaccompanied distraint visits, some bailiffs (wishing to retain the existing work or obtain new work with HMRC) indicated that they were willing to forgo payment of the AF. HMRC and the CBA agreed that this was acceptable.

Where your bailiff approaches you and indicates a willingness to forgo payment of the AF,

  • draw up an agreement with the bailiff
  • do not use alternative wording which may lead the bailiff to believe that a contract of employment exists.

If the AF is still required

If your bailiff is not willing to forgo payment of an AF you should, where payment is appropriate

  • pay a flat rate AF of £4.00, for each debtor (not more than one fee per debtor in one day), adding 70p VAT if the bailiff is a `taxable person’ (DMBM656340)
  • make sure that the bailiff is aware on the day of the number of AFs payable.

Do not charge the AF against, or recover it from, the defaulter.

Accounting for the attendance fee

At the end of each day’s distraint calls

  • record the number of AFs in Book 14
  • keep a record of each AF.