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HMRC internal manual

Debt Management and Banking Manual

Enforcement action: county court proceedings: judgment summonses: judgment summonses in the county court

A judgment summons is issued under Section 5 of the Debtors Act 1869 and tells the judgment debtor that the claimant says he has not paid as the court ordered him to do. It is not strictly a method of enforcement but a step taken to aid enforcement. It is a remedy that is available to the courts in cases involving tax or national insurance, by virtue of Section 11 of the Administration of Justice Act 1970.

The judgment summons warns the judgment debtor that he or she may be committed to prison for a term not exceeding six weeks if the court is satisfied that the judgment debtor

  • has, or has had since the date of the judgment or order, the means to pay the amount of the judgment summons
  • has wilfully neglected or refused to pay as the court ordered.

It is therefore important that you do not request the issue of a judgment summons until you have clear evidence that the judgment debtor either has, or has had since the date of judgment or order, the means to pay the debt.

A judgment summons can be issued for

  • the whole amount of the judgment debt and court fees, where payment was ordered in one sum, or
  • the amount in arrears where payment was ordered by instalments.

(This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000)  

Human Rights - Article 6 ECHR

The judgment summons procedure is a criminal proceeding. It attracts the rights conferred by Article 6 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms 1950 (‘ECHR’). The judgment debtor therefore has the rights to

  • a presumption of innocence throughout
  • precise articulation of the charge
  • adequate time to prepare a defence
  • examine the supporting evidence; and
  • be represented.

The effects of Article 6 on the judgment summons procedure may be summarised as:

  • the burden of proof lies on HMRC and must be established beyond reasonable doubt
  • debtors must be given written notice of the case against them so they can defend the proceedings
  • debtors cannot be compelled to give evidence; and
  • debtors have a right to legal representation.

CCBC cases

If your claim has been made through the CCBC you need to transfer the case to the local court before you can request a judgment summons (DMBM665790).

For limited company cases the local court is the claimant’s home court, in all other cases it is the defendant’s.