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HMRC internal manual

Debt Management and Banking Manual

HM Revenue & Customs
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Summary proceedings: SP summons: personal service in England and Wales

Personal service of the summons

In exceptional cases, where the debtor does not accept a summons by post, isdeliberately avoiding you, or you need to serve it personally for any other reason, atleast 14 days before the hearing date you should

  • hand the summons to the debtor
  • do not enclose the summons in an envelope.

You may serve the summons anywhere in England or Wales but service at the debtor’splace of employment is not desirable unless there is no alternative. Always observe therules of confidentiality strictly, wherever you serve the summons.

Leaving the summons with someone else

If you cannot meet with the debtor personally, but there is a responsible adult (forexample the debtor’s spouse) at the same address and you are assured that the summonswill come to the debtor’s attention within 24 hours, you may

  • leave the summons with the responsible adult, in a sealed envelope clearly marked for the debtor’s attention and
  • make a note of the name of the person with whom the summons is left and their relationship (if any) to the debtor.

Service with police in attendance

If you need to serve a summons or other magistrates’ court document personally butyou anticipate violence, the higher debt manager should consider whether to ask for apolice officer to accompany you.

Certificate of service

In all cases, after serving the summons the officer concerned should personallycomplete the certificate of service, giving precise details of how you served the summons.

Solemn declaration of service

Exceptionally, a ‘solemn declaration of service’ on form SP38 may be requiredif an officer other than the complainant serves the summons by hand. It is a swornstatement normally made before a JP or a Commissioner for Oaths. A fee is payable if swornbefore a Commissioner for Oaths.