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HMRC internal manual

Debt Management and Banking Manual

CCP: action after judgment obtained: applications to vary the terms of an order for payment


The court may vary an order for payment by its own action, or on application by either the claimant or the judgment debtor.

Cases where the court may vary an order

The court may vary the order where it appears that the judgment debtor has some other good reason why the judgment should be set aside or varied.

Claimant’s application to vary an order for payment

Grounds for application

You may apply for an order that the debt be paid at an earlier date, if payable in one sum, or by larger instalments, if payable by instalments. You may also apply for an order that the debt be paid later or by smaller instalments.

Making an application

You should make application on form N294 giving your reason(s) for the request. Fee number 2.9 is payable (see DMBM668770). The district judge will determine an application for earlier payment or larger instalments, and make an appropriate order. It will help considerably with the application if you can attach the judgment debtor’s written consent to the proposed varied order or evidence in support of your application.

Applications for later payment, or reduced instalments, will be determined by a court officer who will either make an order and notify the parties of the outcome or refer the matter to the district judge.

Judgment debtor’s application

Informal application

The judgment debtor may approach you with a proposal to pay on terms different from those ordered. In such cases you should obtain as much information as you can about the judgment debtor’s financial circumstances and consider whether the arrangement is likely to result in earlier settlement than would be the case if you enforced the judgment.

If the proposal is satisfactory, you may accept it on an informal basis, although if it fails, you will have to enforce the original court order. But if the informal arrangement was at a greater rate than the court order, you cannot enforce until the court order ‘catches up’ that is, is in default.

If you feel it would be an advantage (for example it might underline the seriousness of the matter to the judgment debtor) you should obtain the judgment debtor’s written consent to an application to the court to vary the terms of the order.

Application to court to vary an order

If the judgment debtor applies to the court for a variation in the order they must provide

  • the proposed terms of payment
  • the grounds on which the application is made
  • a signed statement of means.

The court will send you a copy of the judgment debtor’s application. If you do not object to the proposals, a court officer will make an order in the terms requested by the judgment debtor.

Objecting to the judgment debtor’s application

If you wish to object to the judgment debtor’s proposals, you must do so in writing to the court within 14 days of service of the notification.

You should not reject the defendant’s offer solely because they might not be up to date with filing their tax returns. But you may wish to make it a condition that the defendant files outstanding returns before you will agree to their offer.

You should bear in mind that the court will not concern itself with other potential liabilities and will only focus on the debt in court.

Where you object to the application, a court officer will determine the date and rate of payment, and make an order accordingly.

Applying for the order to be reconsidered

It is open to either party, within 14 days of the notification, to apply for the order to be reconsidered. Such an application would be heard before a district judge who will make an appropriate order.