Enforcement action: county court proceedings: service of legal documents on HMRC
Service of legal documents on the Department
From time to time you may receive documents which seek either to join the Department as a party in legal proceedings or to sue the Department.
What to look out for
Generally documents which seek to either join the Department as a party in legal proceedings will be accompanied by a letter from the other side’s solicitor using the phrase ‘I enclose by way of service…’.
Attached to the letter should be a document in standard form showing the name of the applicant and the parties against whom he is making the application ‘the respondent(s)’.
Where the Department is being sued, you will receive a ‘Claim form’ together with a ‘response pack’ issued by a county court.
What to do
If HMRC (or ‘the Inland Revenue’ or a named individual such as John Jones, an Officer of Revenue and Customs) is shown as a respondent this becomes a matter for our lawyers, though in practice you should immediately contact the Enforcement Technical Team (Debt Management Bradford).
It is also common for an HMRC office to be shown as a respondent - this is incorrect as they do not exist as such in law and the correct respondent is HMRC. This again becomes a matter for our lawyers, though in practice you should immediately contact the Enforcement Technical Team (Debt Management Bradford).
If you are asked to consent to anything by the documents do not do so, but seek advice.
You should make the EIS Bradford CCP Technical Team (Debt Management Bradford) aware as quickly as possible that you have received a document. You may be asked to identify the issues and send the papers, having flagged any relevant documents in your file.
Remember that the EIS Bradford CCP Technical Team (Debt Management Bradford) may need to pass the papers on to our Solicitor who will not have access to head of duty systems or be aware of all the routine procedures which you might take for granted. You can save everybody time by anticipating, as far as you can, what supporting information the Solicitor might need and what questions might be asked.
If you are asked to do so you should send the papers through your manager as quickly as possible with a submission drawing attention to the issues as you see them. The issues may be confined to the particular case or have wider implications. Say, as far as your experience allows, what you think the response should be.
What to do if you are asked where to make service on the Department
Service on anyone but the Solicitor of HMRC is bad service, and should not be accepted. You should therefore make it clear that you cannot accept service and that this should be made on
General Counsel and Solicitor to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs
South West Wing
Say that it would be helpful for you to receive a copy for information only at the same time.
This may bring an objection but the requirement is a long standing one (see the extract from the Crown Proceedings Act 1947 below).
Crown Proceedings Act 1947
Section 18 Service of Documents
‘All documents required to be served on the Crown for the purpose of or in connection with any civil proceedings by or against the Crown shall, if those proceedings are by or against an authorised Government department, be served on the solicitor, if any, for that department, or the person, if any, acting for the purpose of this Act as solicitor for that department, or if there is no such solicitor and no person so acting, or if the proceedings are brought by or against the Attorney General, on the Solicitor for the affairs of His Majesty’s Treasury’.