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HMRC internal manual

Debt Management and Banking Manual

Enforcement action: county court proceedings: reviewing the enforcement strategy: reviewing the enforcement strategy

The enforcement strategy

Cases entered into county court should have been authorised by an officer of debt manager grade or above.

Reviewing your enforcement strategy

You should enforce the judgment by your chosen means first but if this does not produce payment, you will need to review both your strategy and the information on which it was based. Your strategy must always flexible enough to change in the light of further or new information and a debt manager or above should authorise any change and note IDMS.

If you decide that you need more information to determine what method or methods of enforcement to use, consider whether:

  • sufficient information is already held within the Department
  • information can be obtained from a third party
  • the judgment debtor needs to be contacted.

Corporation tax cases

Once you have obtained a CCJ in respect of assessed tax liability in a limited company case that is continuing to trade, obtain and review third party credit data.

If there are two or more non-HMRC uncleared CCJs:

  • obtain a copy of the latest balance sheet from the CT file, or on microfiche from Companies House
  • refer the case to EIS (DMBM685000).

Otherwise (if there are less than two non-HMRC uncleared CCJs), interview the directors (DMBM666570).

Obtaining further information

As a first step you should check what information Customer Ops hold about the judgment debtor. If the judgment debtor is employed, send form 36A (obtainable from SEES) to the current employer for details of recent wages or salary with a view to an AEO. If this line of enquiry does not assist, you will need to consider interviewing the judgment debtor to establish their means (DMBM666580).

Information not obtained

If you are unable to interview the judgment debtor, or the judgment debtor does not provide sufficient information voluntarily to enable you to enforce the debt, consider whether they should be ordered to attend court to provide it.

An order for a judgment debtor to attend court is not a method of enforcement, but it can be a useful step towards it.

Remember that if you order the judgment debtor to attend court you will not be able to use the information gained at the hearing as evidence if you decide to request a judgment summons later (DMBM668080).

Cases where judgments are over six years old

The Court of Appeal decided in the case of Ridgeway Motors (Isleworth) Ltd v Altis Ltd [2004] EWHC 1843 (Ch) that the Limitation Act 1980 does not apply to judgments and therefore all the usual methods of enforcement may be used, even if six years have passed since judgment, though you need the permission of the court for warrants of execution (DMBM666830).

Although not strictly a method of enforcement if you wish to request a judgment summons, refer to the EIS Bradford CCP Technical Team before the request is made.