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HMRC internal manual

Debt Management and Banking Manual

Summary Warrant: Guidelines for sheriff officers

The following details the service HMRC expect from each of the sheriff officers engaged in work for the department. Whenever a new sheriff officer is appointed to act for the department Debt Management Edinburgh Group Office will arrange for this information to be sent out to them. When procedures change Debt Management Edinburgh Group Office will update these guidelines and issue a copy to each sheriff officer.

Guidelines for Sheriff Officers

Debtors (Scotland) Act 1987 and Debt

Arrangement and Attachment (Scotland) Act 2002

Bankruptcy and Diligence etc. (Scotland) Act 2007

Recovery of arrears under warrant

Your attention is drawn to the following paragraphs that describe the procedures that are to be followed by you for the recovery of arrears placed in your hands by an officer of HM Revenue and Customs and for the proper accounting thereof.

The summary warrant provides for enforcement, following service of a charge to pay, by attachment and sale, earnings arrestment or arrestment and action of furthcoming you should proceed by whichever of these methods the officer of HM Revenue and Customs requests you to use. After each stage of the diligence, a report together with any supporting documentation (the report of attachment or a note of any offer made by the debtor concerning payment of the debt for example) should be sent to the officer of HM Revenue and Customs. If the officer of HM Revenue and Customs decides that further action is required his written report will follow.

  1. Charge to Pay

You will be instructed, by letter, to deliver the charge to pay together with a debt advice and information pack.

You will provide a Certificate of Execution which will detail the particulars of the actual service of the charge to pay including information on any attachable assets.

  1. Execution of attachment

The Schedule (form C95 series) enclosed with the Warrant (form C96 series) details the source of income, individual amounts of tax recoverable or amounts recoverable as if they were tax, which will enable you to explain to the debtor, if necessary, the nature of the charge on the Warrant. If you wish, a copy of the Schedule will be provided for your use as an office record.

The amount entered in the column headings “Total” or “Total Payable” on the forms C95 is the sum payable by the debtor for the period shown. Where the officer of HM Revenue and Customs has requested that you proceed by way of an attachment it will be the aggregate of these sums plus costs due that you attempt to attach for each debtor.

Great care must be taken to ensure that at all stages the attachment is carried out strictly in accordance with the provisions of the law, as set out in the Warrant. In any case of doubt or difficulty you must contact the officer of HM Revenue and Customs immediately for guidance.

  1. Avoidance of delay in attaching

Wherever practicable an attachment should be carried out without delay after the receipt of the Warrant. However if you know or have any reason to believe that our action may be in error or that the attachment may lead to difficulties, you should not attach but report the facts to the officer of HM Revenue and Customs and await his reply before taking any further steps.

An attachment should normally be executed without notice. If a debtor objects to the absence of a notice, he should be reminded that the amount is very much overdue and that the officer of HM Revenue and Customs has already made several applications for payment. Also that the final application gave clear instruction that if payment was not made then collection would be placed in your hands without further warning. Where the debtor maintains that he has not received any demand or notice concerning the sums on warrant you should withhold the action and telephone the officer of HM Revenue and Customs immediately to seek advice.

  1. Withdrawal or suspension of proceedings

From time to time the officer of HM Revenue and Customs may telephone you and instruct you to stop action on a particular case and to await further instruction from him. In such a situation you should suspend further action on the case immediately and await written confirmation of any further action to be taken.

  1. Recovery and payment of costs

Costs are recoverable from the debtor only where diligence has been executed. It has been agreed that you will not charge HM Revenue and Customs a collecting and accounting fee. Where required, the scale fees laid down by Act of Sederunt will be paid in the first instance by the creditor, i.e. the officer of HM Revenue and Customs.

  1. How to deal with monies received

In accordance with paras18 (3) and 56(3) of the Debt Arrangement and Attachment (Scotland) Act 2002 you are required to grant a receipt to a debtor who redeems any attached article. If a debtor questions the sufficiency of your receipt you should inform him that an official receipt will be issued by HM Revenue and Customs in due course.

  1. Remitting payment to HM Revenue and Customs

Any monies (including costs) obtained by you on behalf of HM Revenue and Customs are to be sent to the officer of HM Revenue and Customs on a daily basis and should not be lodged in a separate banking account in your bank

Debtors should be asked to make all cheques payable to HM Revenue and Customs. Any cheque made payable to yourselves and crossed “A/c payee” or bearing any similar restrictions on cheque clearance – (“not transferable” for example) should be returned to the debtor for amendment. A cheque which does not bear the words “A/c payee” (or similar) and is made payable to yourselves should be endorsed in the normal way and forwarded to HM Revenue and Customs as at present. It is accepted that where cash is received it must be converted to a cheque drawn on your bank before passing it to HM Revenue and Customs who will meet any reasonable bank charges incurred in doing so.

You should not retain your costs from the payment made, as these will be reimbursed to you by HM Revenue and Customs each month in accordance with their normal practice.

  1. Earnings arrestment

Where an officer of HM Revenue and Customs decides that an earnings arrestment is appropriate he will provide you with details of the name, designation and address of

  • (a) the employer
  • (b) the debtor and
  • (c) the creditor

for entry on the earnings arrestment schedule.

The employer should be instructed to send payments to HM Revenue and Customs. A copy of the Certificate of Execution of an earnings arrestment schedule, completed in accordance with para 70(4) of the Debtors (Scotland) Act 1987 should be sent to HM Revenue and Customs together with a note of your fees.

  1. Arrestment

Where HM Revenue and Customs decide that an arrestment of funds other than earnings, is the most appropriate means of enforcing payment of the debt they will indicate the banks etc with whom the arrestments are to be lodged.

A claim for the costs incurred should be sent to HM Revenue and Customs.

  1. Payment of costs

HM Revenue and Customs will arrange to pay you at the beginning of each month the exigible costs claimed by you during the previous month.

  1. Situation reports

If an item referred to you for diligence has remained in your hands for a month and HM Revenue and Customs has received no report from you confirming whether diligence has been executed or not they will request a report from you detailing your action to date.