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HMRC internal manual

Debt Management and Banking Manual

Enforcement action: country court proceedings: the defendant’s response to the claim: consent orders

If the parties in a court action come to an agreement among themselves, they or the court can draw up a consent order that binds both parties to its terms.

One type of consent order is commonly known as a Tomlin order, being named after the High Court Judge Mr Justice Tomlin (as he then was) who devised such an order in 1927.

In HMRC actions it is usually the defence that proposes a consent or Tomlin order because it is to their advantage to do so, particularly if it delays or avoids judgment being entered against them.

Consent orders are not enforceable in themselves, but they prevent any action being taken except what is provided in the specific terms of the order. If the terms are broken the parties are no longer bound by the order, but you will have to apply to the court before being able to resume normal action and proceed to judgment.

It is therefore vitally important that the wording of any order be approved by the EIS Bradford CCP Technical Team and the Solicitor’s Office (where appropriate) to ensure that HMRC’s ability to resume the proceedings is not impaired.