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HMRC internal manual

Debt Management and Banking Manual

Enforcement action: county court proceedings: reviewing the enforcement strategy: interviewing directors where the judgment debtor is a limited company

Where the judgment debtor is a limited company and enforcement by warrant of execution, writ of fi fa, or third party debt order, is not feasible or has failed, a debt manager should contact the directors of the company. If you do not know their names and addresses, you can obtain this information from Experian, KAI or Companies House, or you can ask Customer Ops.

If you can interview the directors personally

  • ask for payment of the judgment debt / instalment(s) in arrears
  • take care not to imply that the judgment debt is a personal liability of the director
  • say that it would be in the director’s own interest for the judgment debt to be paid, to avoid attending court
  • advise that further proceedings could result in the company being wound up.

If the director does not make payment you should find out as much relevant information as you can about the company’s financial position. You can gather this information from a combination of sources; Experian, KAI, Companies House, or you can ask Customer Ops.

If the company is not trading, you should find out

  • the date it stopped trading and the reason
  • details of its assets of all descriptions, including property, book debts and loan accounts
  • if the assets have been sold, what became of the proceeds.

Where a personal call is not practicable, you should send each director a letter notifying them of the judgment against the company. Ask them, both as a director and a responsible officer of the company, to arrange for immediate payment.

Ordering the director to attend court to provide information

Where a director will not provide the information you want, or where you have to write to them for payment, you should warn him or her that you may consider applying to the court for an order to obtain information from an officer of a judgment debtor company (form N316A). This will mean that he or she will have to attend court to answer questions, on oath, as to the company’s ability to pay the judgment debt.

Warn the director that the company may have to pay the court fee for the application. Suggest that in the circumstances it would be advantageous to cooperate now, because if the director does not attend court as ordered it could lead to his or her imprisonment for contempt of court.