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HMRC internal manual

Debt Management and Banking Manual

Enforcement action: county court proceedings: reviewing the enforcement strategy: orders to attend court to obtain information

Orders to attend

As judgment creditor you may apply to the court under CPR71.2 for an order requiring a judgment debtor, or an officer of a limited company, to attend court to provide information, on oath, about

  • their means or
  • any other matter about which information is needed to enforce a judgment or order.

This may include providing evidence of ownership of specific assets or property.

An order for a judgment debtor, or an officer of a limited company, to attend court is not a method of enforcement, but it is an extremely useful step towards it. At the end of it you will be better placed to decide which methods of enforcement are most likely to succeed. You should enforce the judgment immediately after the hearing, by all available methods, simultaneously.

Exceptionally, the person’s answers may persuade you not to take any further action.

CCBC cases

If your claim has been made through the CCBC, you need to transfer the case to the local court before making an application for such an order. To comply with a Practice Direction to the CPR, the CCBC must always transfer cases to the defendant’s home court.

In limited company cases the officer you wish to be ordered to attend court for questioning may not live in the area of the court the CCBC transfer the case to. You need to remember that the CCBC will not hold the personal address details of the officer of the company. In such circumstances you will need to transfer the case to the appropriate court after the CCBC has dealt with the initial transfer.

Consequences of failing to comply with an order

Orders to attend court carry potentially serious consequences. A person who fails to attend court as ordered can be sent to prison for contempt of court. You should consider carefully before ordering anyone you know to be aged, or in poor health, to attend court.

Production of documents

The person will be told to produce documents relating to their (or their company’s) income, expenditure and savings for examination. Note that because this involves compelling someone to provide information that they may not have provided voluntarily, the information obtained may be said to have been obtained under duress. It cannot therefore be used later as evidence in criminal proceedings against the judgment debtor such as a judgment summons.