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HMRC internal manual

Debt Management and Banking Manual

Enforcement action: county court proceedings: reviewing the enforcement strategy: applying for an order to obtain information

When to apply

You should apply for an order to obtain information where either you:

  • cannot immediately enforce payment using your chosen strategy
  • have insufficient evidence on which to issue a judgment summons
  • have explored all other means of securing the judgment debtor’s co-operation
  • believe that the judgment debtor has goods or assets that they will not disclose to you voluntarily.

Exceptionally, you can make an application to obtain information even if the judgment debtor is complying with the terms of an instalment order.

Authorisation of the application

An officer of at least debt manager level should examine the case papers thoroughly and give written authority for an application to be made.

Where to apply for an order to obtain information

You should apply to the court in whose area the person you wish to be ordered to attend resides or carries on business. If you did not obtain judgment in the appropriate court transfer the proceedings to the appropriate court.

The application - form N316/316A

To apply for an order to obtain information, you should complete form N316 (individual judgment debtor) or N316A (officer of a company) as appropriate. The form tells the person ordered to attend to bring certain documents to the hearing. If you are aware of any other documents that are material to the ability to pay, you should list them at question 4 on the form (but do not include any outstanding SA/CTSA returns).

Similarly, if you have specific questions to ask the judgment debtor or the officer of a company (such as the whereabouts of the proceeds of sale of specified assets) list them at question 3 on the form. Make sure you are familiar with the questions that will be asked on forms EX140 and EX141 before deciding whether there are any extra questions that you may wish to ask. If you have any doubts as to the additional questions you intend to ask, seek advice from the EIS Bradford CCP Technical Team.

Note: It is imperative that county court forms EX140 & EX141 are used only at court hearings. They must not be used as income and expenditure forms and you should not hand or send them to the judgment debtor by post for completion.

Questioning the judgment debtor before a judge

Form N316 makes provision for you to ask that you be able to question the judgment debtor before a judge. Whilst this course of action will be unlikely, except for only the most difficult or complex situations, each case should be considered on its merits.

If you believe this may be desirable, seek immediate advice from the EIS Bradford CCP Technical Team.

Where you have specifically asked to question the judgment debtor before a judge, the hearing will be in open court and the standard questions in forms EX140 or EX141 will not be used. The proceedings will be tape-recorded.

Grade of officer attending

A higher debt manager or above must attend and conduct the questioning before a judge.

Pre-hearing checks

When you have completed the application form:

  • carry out an RP check (DMBM615040)
  • prepare an imminent proceedings list
  • note the appropriate computer records and file
  • sign and date the statement of truth
  • take or send the form and supporting documents to the court with the fee (see DMBM668760).

The court will prepare an ‘Order to attend court for questioning’ (form N39) and send it to you for service.