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HMRC internal manual

Debt Management and Banking Manual

HM Revenue & Customs
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Enforcement action: country court proceedings: appearing in court: attending the pre-trial reviews


What to take with you

When attending the court you should take with you

  • your warrant of appointment
  • certificate(s) of debt
  • the papers
  • the evidence you intend to produce
  • two copies of a simple calculation of the interest accrued between starting the action and the hearing date
  • a copy of Practice Direction PD7D.

The outcome of the pre-trial review (PTR) will depend largely on whether or not the defendant attends and on how well you have prepared for the hearing.

If the defendant does not attend

If the defendant does not attend the PTR you should be able to obtain judgment after proving your claim. If you have to give evidence, the district judge may ask you to take the oath or affirm. When you have done so tell the district judge how the claim has arisen and explain your response to the individual points raised in the defence. Your reply to the defence will form a useful basis for this. Conclude by confirming the amount now unpaid, including interest to ‘today’, produce the certificate(s) of debt to prove your claim, and ask for judgment for the full amount of your claim including interest to the date of judgment, plus fees incurred.

Be prepared to answer any questions the district judge may ask.

If satisfied that you have proved your claim the district judge will enter judgment in your favour and the court will notify the defendant of the judgment within 10 days of the hearing date. Otherwise, the district judge may order that the case is listed for a full hearing at a future date.

If the district judge makes an order that the case enter the tracking system for a case where all the debts included within the claim are covered by Practice Direction PD7D [CPRPD7D] (see DMBM665800), you should refer the court to that practice direction. The effect of the practice direction is to exempt those cases from the allocation to track procedures.

If the defendant attends the PTR

Where both you and the defendant attend the PTR, the district judge will ask you to explain your claim and the defendant to explain the defence.

You should tell the district judge the facts of the case, as you would have done had the defendant not attended. Once again, your reply to the defence will form a useful basis for this. Lastly, produce certificates of debt. Where you have already made an application for the defence or any counterclaim to be struck out you should ask for the appropriate order at this stage when addressing the district judge.

The district judge will consider what both parties have said and produced in evidence and will decide whether the matter can be decided there and then or whether to order a full hearing.

You cannot question the defendant about their means at the PTR but if the district judge enters judgment in your favour, either because of the evidence you have presented or the defendant withdrawing the defence, the court will have to make an order for payment.

You should seek an order for payment forthwith without any further comment to the court and leave it entirely to the defendant to respond.

Outcome of hearing

If judgment is entered in your favour take enforcement action as appropriate.

If the district judge orders or directs you to file and deliver further particulars of claim prepare the appropriate particulars and serve a copy on all parties to the proceedings, including the court, advising each party that the other parties have been served. You should then proceed according to how the defendant responds.

In tax credit overpayment cases where the court makes an order requiring you to supply further information, a witness statement or details of phone calls made to the Tax Credit Helpline, follow the guidance at DMBM666225.

Report of hearing

As soon as you are able you should make a report of the hearing on form C20C including a precise note of the decision or order given by the district judge (DMBM666240).


There is no fee for a PTR even if the case is decided at that hearing under the provision of Practice Direction PD7D.