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HMRC internal manual

Debt Management and Banking Manual

Enforcement action: county court proceedings: attachment of earnings orders (AEOs): attending AEO hearings

You may have to attend a hearing to determine or vary the order, either as a result of an application by yourself or the judgment debtor or as ordered by the court.

Pre - hearing checks

Before attending the hearing:

  • complete an RP check (DMBM615040)
  • prepare an imminent proceedings list.

Attending the hearing

At hearings to determine or to vary (amend) an AEO, you should draw the district judge’s attention to the evidence you have regarding the judgment debtor’s means and ask the court to make or vary the order.

Usually the hearing will result in a straightforward order for the attachment of earnings, in which case CAPS (the Centralised Attachments of Earnings Payment System) will send notice of the order on form N60 to the employer, the claimant and the judgment debtor. Do not challenge the court’s decision (for example, the rate of protected earnings determined by the court may differ from your estimate).

However, the court may make any order that it sees fit. For example the court may:

  • make a consolidated AEO if there are no objections and a non-priority AEO is already in force
  • make an Administration Order (or order the judgment debtor to supply a list of creditors and the amounts owing to each of them on form N93)
  • make an AEO but suspend it so long as the judgment debtor meets the terms for payment where they have offered to pay by instalments. If they default, apply to the court for the suspended AEO to be activated using form N446
  • adjourn or dismiss your application.

You must always ensure that you make proper notes of the details (protected earnings rate, normal deduction rate, time for payment and so on) at the time of the hearing and make a full report on form 20C.