Enforcement action: county court proceedings: judgment summonses: judgment debtor fails to attend the hearing
It is important to remember that the judgment summons form N67 does not in the first place order the judgment debtor to attend court. It tells the judgment debtor when the evidence against him or her will be heard and says that the court will consider any evidence the judgment debtor may wish to give, but does not specify how they should present it. The judgment debtor may, for example, write to the court rather than appear in person.
Where the judgment debtor does not attend the initial judgment summons hearing, the court may still hear your evidence because the judgment debtor may have written to the court. However the judge cannot commit a person on the first hearing where the judgment summons has been served by post unless he or she attends court.
Normally the judge will want to see the judgment debtor and will order the judgment debtor’s attendance at an adjourned hearing of the judgment summons. If the judge does not order the judgment debtor’s attendance, you should ask for it. Ask for the order by name rather than by form number.
Once you have done this, make a note of the judge’s order, to ensure that you attend the adjourned hearing.
You must obtain the order to attend (form N69) from the court office. When it has been stamped and sealed by the court, you must serve it personally on the judgment debtor. Any HMRC officer may serve it and complete a witness statement of service. The N69 must be served together with:
- a copy of the judgment summons
- copies of the written evidence
- reasonable travelling expenses to and from the court (unless they have been given already).
Judgment debtor fails to attend an adjourned hearing
If the judgment debtor fails to attend the adjourned hearing, the judge may make an order committing him or her to prison for a period not exceeding 14 days for contempt in respect of the failure. The judge may direct that the order be suspended so long as the judgment debtor attends at a fixed time and place. The order is on form N112 and will be served by the court. In effect this is a further adjourned hearing, which you should attend.
When the court has made a committal order it may award you costs, including the judgment debtor’s travelling expenses.
If the judgment debtor still fails to attend at the time and place fixed, the judge will order the judgment debtor’s arrest and committal for non-attendance (form N70).