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HMRC internal manual

Debt Management and Banking Manual

Enforcement action: summary proceedings: enforcing magistrates' orders: executing a distress warrant

If the court agree to issue a distress warrant, they will direct the warrant to the named, certificated bailiff or, exceptionally, to the police.

The warrant empowers the bailiff to collect the amount shown on the order for payment together with his fees for executing the warrant.

The bailiff can enforce the warrant by levying and removing goods, or may agree an instalment arrangement with the debtor.

To prevent unnecessary bailiff activity and the possibility of complaints, you should have agreed with the bailiff that they phone or fax you a list of HMRC debts on the day of their call to ensure that no payments have been received.

Similarly you should agree that he does not pursue the debtor for his charges if the debtor can prove payment has been made. In such circumstances the bailiff should refer to your office as in ‘Adjustments and objections after a distress warrant has been issued - no duty remains payable’ (DMBM660660).

Payment tendered after a distress warrant has been issued

Once a distress warrant has been issued the debtor should pay the debt and accrued costs and charges to the bailiff executing it only. The bailiff will arrange for the duty and costs to be sent to you in due course.

Receipt requested

When you receive payment from the bailiff and the debtor has requested a receipt, send the receipt direct to the debtor.

Payment offered direct to you

You should not accept payment from the debtor whilst a warrant is in force, but instead refer the debtor to the bailiff.

Payment made to Banking Operations

You will not be notified if a debtor makes a payment direct to Banking Operations.