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HMRC internal manual

Debt Management and Banking Manual

Enforcement action: county court proceedings: reviewing the enforcement strategy: the ‘Order to obtain information’ hearing

Grade of officer attending

Most hearings will be in chambers before an officer of the court. A debt manager or higher grade should always attend the hearing and ensure that questions are answered fully and properly.

Questioning the judgment debtor

The judgment debtor will be questioned on oath and the questions the judgment debtor will be asked are set out on form EX140 (for an individual) or EX141 (for an officer of a company). You may ask the additional questions you have already listed on the order to attend, or you may ask the court officer to ask them on your behalf. The court officer will make a written record of the evidence given, unless the proceedings are being tape-recorded.

If the judgment debtor fails to answer satisfactorily or to produce the required documents, the court may order the judgment debtor to produce them at a later date, with a sanction (to be determined by the court) if they fail to comply.

Production of documents

Make sure the judgment debtor produces documents (for example payslips or bank statements) to support their answers. But remember that you cannot ask for specific documents to be produced unless you have already given notice on the application form.

Deposition by judgment debtor

At the end of the questioning the court officer will ask the person to read over the deposition (the written record of the evidence given), ask them to sign it and authenticate the deposition by signing it themselves. The deposition will be filed in the court office.

There is provision on the deposition for the judgment debtor to make an offer of payment of the judgment debt. You are not obliged to accept the offer immediately, or at all.

Within 7 days of the hearing, you must write and tell the judgment debtor whether you accept or reject the offer and your next course of action.

The judgment debtor may refuse to sign the deposition. If so, the court officer will refer the matter to the circuit judge.

Application fee and travelling expenses

You should ask for the application fee, and any travelling expenses paid to the person being questioned, to be awarded to you.

Choosing the next course of action

As soon as the hearing has ended and you have information about the judgment debtor’s assets (This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000) you should issue simultaneous enforcement action against all assets that are likely to produce payment (DMBM666520).