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HMRC internal manual

Debt Management and Banking Manual

Summary proceedings: Where you take summary proceedings

It is important to remember that once proceedings have begun in a particular magistrates’ court, they cannot be transferred to another court. Alternative methods of recovery, both distraint and county court proceedings are not then appropriate.

You should take summary proceedings in the magistrates’ court for the area where the defaulter resides, or carries on business. This may mean dealing with more than one court but, with the agreement of the Area Director (AD), you may be permitted to centralise your cases in one court, provided that defaulters’ addresses are all within the commission area to which the magistrates are appointed. This may help to reduce the number of courts you deal with.

Centralisation of hearings

The AD’s office may direct that HMRC cases can only be heard in a designated court in their area. Or exceptionally, if you are having particular difficulty with a court, youmay ask the area office if they are willing to allow your summonses to be heard at one court within the area.

However, centralisation may create extra travelling problems for the debtor that will have to be resolved if they wish to attend a hearing.

If your cases are centralised at a distant court and a debtor wishes to attend, but claims not to have sufficient means to attend the hearing, you may arrange to pay conduct money (See DMBM660111 for clarification) if you consider it appropriate.

If new debts arise in or are transferred to a different office from that in which SP action has already started, the new office may wish to co-ordinate debt recovery, but the ownership of the SP case must remain with you at the originating office.

If the debtor moves outside the court’s area but remains within the commission area you should seek advice on what arrangements are possible from the AD’s office for that area (the name and telephone number are obtainable from the court). The AD’s office will tell you what steps to take to reach agreement with the court(s) concerned.

Note that the AD can only provide advice on administrative arrangements for courts in their area and should not be approached about any other matters.