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HMRC internal manual

Debt Management and Banking Manual

Enforcement action: county court proceedings: judgment summonses: considerations before applying for a judgment summons

Because of the potentially serious consequences it is important that you do not apply for 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 judgment debt.

Normally you should have recently seen the judgment debtor personally which will allow you to decide whether or not committal proceedings are desirable, for example the judgment debtor may be elderly or infirm (DMBM666550).

You should apply for a judgment summons only where you have discounted all other methods of enforcement. Once you have decided that a judgment summons is the appropriate enforcement path, all personal contact should ideally be made by the officer (higher debt manager or above) who will attend the judgment summons hearing.

Cases where you should not apply for a judgment summons

Never apply for the issue of a judgment summons where the judgment debtor is either:

  • elderly
  • in poor health

or in cases involving either:

  • inheritance tax
  • tax credit overpayments
  • contract settlements
  • R97 overpayments.

Cases where you should seek authority before applying for a judgment summons

You should seek advice from the EIS Bradford CCP Technical Team (Debt Management Bradford) if you feel that a judgment summons is likely to be effective in the case of either:

  • a partnership
  • a serving seafarer
  • the date of judgment was over six years ago.

Amount of judgment summons

A judgment summons can be issued for either:

  • the whole amount of the judgment debt and court fees, where payment was ordered in one sum
  • 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)

Timing of application

Make sure that you apply for the issue of a judgment summons promptly. It is clearly easier to prove that a judgment debtor has had the means to pay a relatively small sum than a very large one.