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HMRC internal manual

Debt Management and Banking Manual

Enforcement action: county court proceedings: administration orders: conduct of an AO hearing

The district judge will take the lead but you will be given an opportunity to present your evidence.

Where HMRC’s debt was listed incorrectly, you will need to produce certificates of debt to prove your claim and ask the district judge to include the correct debt in the AO.

Where the court’s proposed order for payment seems unreasonable you should tell the district judge why you find it unreasonable and produce evidence in support.

Where you have cause to believe that the debtor’s financial circumstances may improve, for example he or she may only be temporarily out of work, you should ask the district judge to arrange a review of the rate of payment at an appropriate future date.

After hearing the evidence the district judge will decide whether or not to make an AO and the terms of such an order. You should be aware that when making an AO the district judge has complete discretion and may order payment

  • in full
  • by instalments
  • of so much in the £ only (known as a ‘composition’).

The district judge may also direct the time and frequency of any review of the AO. You should

  • accept the district judge’s decision without question
  • make a report of outcome of the hearing on form 20C
  • follow the appropriate guidance depending on whether or not an AO has been made.