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HMRC internal manual

Debt Management and Banking Manual

HM Revenue & Customs
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Enforcement action: CCP country court proceedings: the defendant’s response to the claim: defences in partnership cases

‘Not a partner’ defences

If you receive a defence on the grounds that the defendant was not a partner, check with Customer Ops to confirm the facts. In particular, look for any correspondence from the defendant, or an agent acting on his behalf that confirms a partnership was in existence. And also any communication that indicates that he (or she) has resigned from the partnership.

If a defendant claims that they have already paid their share of the claim, when replying to the defence advise the court and the defendant that:

  • a partner is liable for the whole amount of the partnership debt and not merely that part attributable to their share of the income
  • HMRC was not a party to any agreement (if there was one) between the partners as to payment and is not therefore bound by its conditions.

Where the partnership is an employer and your claim is for PAYE / NIC deductions, it is not a valid defence for the defendant to say that another person is responsible for calculation and payment. Advise the court and the defendant that a partner is liable for the whole amount of the partnership debt.

Section 9 of the Partnership Act 1890 states:

“Every partner in a firm is liable jointly with the other partners … for all debts and obligations of the firm incurred while he is a partner …”.