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HMRC internal manual

Debt Management and Banking Manual

HM Revenue & Customs
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Enforcement action: country court proceedings: the defendant’s response to the claim: defendant's options on receipt of the claim

A response pack is issued to the defendant, or each defendant where there is more than one, with the claim. The pack contains all the relevant forms for responding to the claim, whether the defendant chooses to admit or defend the claim.

Defendants are required to supply their date of birth when replying to a claim, but courts will not refuse to process a reply if they fail to do so. Where a date of birth is given by the defendant, you should update records accordingly.

Where both the claimant and the defendant provide the date of birth, but the dates differ the court will use the date given by the defendant.

Responses should be made in writing, including ‘online’ if the claim has been issued through the CCBC.

The defendant has 14 days in which to respond to the claim. The notes that accompany the claim form tell defendants that they may pay, admit or dispute (defend) the claim.

Experience shows that most defendants fail to do anything in the time available.

All these options are covered in greater depth later in the manual.


The defendant may pay the claim in full or in part. If only part payment is made this may be combined with an admission or defence of the claim.


To admit the claim the defendant must complete form N9A [Admission (specified amount)] and return it to the claimant. The admission may or may not be accompanied by a payment or an offer of payment. Where the defendant admits part of the claim only, treat it as a defence.

To admit part of the claim the defendant must either:

  • pay the amount admitted to the claimant, complete form N9B [Defence and Counterclaim (specified amount)] and then send the form to the court
  • complete form N9A [Admission (specified amount)] and form N9B [Defence and Counterclaim (specified amount)] and send both forms to the court.

Some defendants may overlook the requirement to complete both the ‘admission’ and ‘defence’ forms in part admission cases where payment is not being made immediately, but in all cases where the defendant admits only part of the claim, you should treat it as a defence.


To defend the claim the defendant must complete form N9B [Defence and Counterclaim (specified amount)] and return the form to the court.

Acknowledgment of Service

The defendant can acknowledge service of the claim if they need more than 14 days to prepare a defence, or wish to contest the court’s jurisdiction to deal with the matter. Filing an Acknowledgment of Service extends the time limit for filing a defence to 28 days from the deemed date of service of the claim form. See DMBM665630 for more information.

Where the defendant files an Acknowledgment of Service, the court will notify you on form N10.