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HMRC internal manual

Debt Management and Banking Manual

Enforcement action: summary proceedings: hearings and orders in the magistrates' court: preparation for the SP hearing

This section of the manual is about attending the magistrates’ court hearing.

Purpose of the hearing

The purpose of the hearing is to obtain an order from the magistrates for payment of the unpaid debt, the court fees, interest and costs.

Certificates of debt

A certificate of debt is a signed statement that the debt shown is due and has not been paid to the Department. It is ‘sufficient’, but not ‘conclusive’ evidence of debt. Where you know that your court will require one, you should ensure that you have a properly completed certificate to produce at the appropriate stage of the proceedings.

Final checks before the hearing

Immediately before the hearing you should:

  • prepare an imminent proceedings list
  • carry out an RP check (DMBM615040)
  • satisfy yourself that the summons has been properly served.


If you are recovering a penalty you may need to provide certain additional information at the hearing. No more than three days before the hearing you should ask the office that imposed the penalty:

  • why the penalty was imposed
  • under what specific legislation
  • the year/ period and nature of the return and
  • whether it is an initial or continuing penalty.