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HMRC internal manual

Debt Management and Banking Manual

Enforcement action: county court proceedings: judgment summonses: new or varied orders for payment

New or varied orders for payment

Remember that if you cannot prove your case before the court, the court may make a new order for payment by instalments. It is unreasonable to use the judgment summons process (with the threat of imprisonment) simply to achieve a new order for payment by instalments, so if you feel that a new order may be a possible outcome, it is preferable to apply for a variation order first. Set the instalments at a level the judgment debtor can afford. If the judgment debtor does not meet the revised instalments, consider enforcing payment of the overdue instalments by other means first, before resorting to a judgment summons.

Applying for a variation order

Where the original judgment provided for payment in one sum, or you consider that the evidence against the judgment debtor is insufficient to prove that they have, or have had, the means to pay the amount ordered, you should apply for a variation order (without a hearing). Always ask for a level of instalments you can prove that the judgment debtor is capable of paying.

To do this, prepare form N294 and send it to the court with the appropriate fee. The court will make the new order and notify the judgment debtor.

As soon as there is default of one or more instalments, consider enforcement action by any method of enforcement.