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HMRC internal manual

Debt Management and Banking Manual

Enforcement action: county court proceedings: judgment summonses: service of the judgment summons

Service of the judgment summons

Normally the initial judgment summons should be served by first class post, so you will need to complete the certificate requesting postal service. You may choose to serve it personally if you wish. A ‘successive judgment summons’ must always be served personally (DMBM668100).

Deemed date of service

A judgment summons served by post is deemed to be served on the seventh day after the date on which it is posted.

Allowing the judgment debtor time to respond

The judgment summons and all written evidence must be served on the judgment debtor at least 14 days before the hearing date. Where the judgment summons is not served in time, the court will send you form N216 (Notice of non-service). Consider whether it is worth applying for a successive judgment summons. If you have chosen to serve the judgment summons yourself, and you are unable to do so in time, you must tell the court in good time.

If you receive any communication which shows that the judgment summons came to the judgment debtor’s notice, keep it with the papers and produce it, if necessary, at the hearing.

Postal service

Where a judgment summons is served by post, a committal order may only be made if the judgment debtor appears at the hearing, so if the judgment debtor does not attend you should ask for an order for him to attend.

Where you have served a judgment summons personally and paid travelling expenses to the judgment debtor, the judge may make a committal order if the judgment debtor does not appear at the hearing, although it is unlikely that a request for committal will be granted on the first hearing. See DMBM666630 for more information about travelling expenses.

Any HMRC officer can serve the judgment summons on the judgment debtor and complete a witness statement of service.

Debtor evading service

Where you are unable to serve a judgment summons because the judgment debtor is being evasive and you believe that the judgment debtor is still residing or carrying on business at the address on the original judgment summons, seek advice from the EIS Bradford CCP Technical Team (Debt Management Bradford).