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HMRC internal manual

Enquiry Manual

Information Powers: TMA70/S20: Relevant Lawyers (Barristers, Solicitors, Advocates & Other Legal Representatives)



Officers can not issue notices to relevant lawyers. Notices to relevant lawyers can only be issued by HMRC Commissioners.

A relevant lawyer is

  • A barrister
  • An advocate (i.e. a member of the Faculty of Advocates in Scotland)
  • A solicitor
  • A registered foreign lawyer or a European lawyer
  • Any other legal representative communications with whom may be the subject of a claim to professional privilege in accordance with section 190, Legal Services Act 2007 (such as a licensed conveyancer, a trade mark or patents attorney, a legal executive or a law costs draftsman)

Communications with a legal representative may be privileged where the legal representative is authorized by an approved regulator in relation to a reserved legal activity.

Reserved legal activities are:-

  1. the exercise of a right of audience;
  2. the conduct of litigation;
  3. reserved instrument activities;
  4. probate activities;
  5. notarial activities;
  6. the administration of oaths.

Approved regulators are:-

  1. The Law Society
  2. The General Council of the Bar
  3. The Master of the Faculties
  4. The Institute of Legal Executives
  5. The Council for Licensed Conveyancers
  6. The Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys
  7. The Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys
  8. The Association of Law Costs Draftsmen

Where you consider that such a notice is necessary under Section 20(1) or 20(3) submit the file with a brief report to contact link, including a draft schedule of documents required before any action (formal or informal) is taken. Similarly a report should be made before any steps are taken to issue a notice under Section 20(3) to a person other than a relevant lawyer for documents relevant to the liability of a relevant lawyer.

Notices issued by HMRC Commissioners do not require a General or Special Commissioner’s consent nor a precursor letter. If an informal request is made the documents requested will not attract the protection of S20BB(1).

A relevant lawyer is not obliged to deliver or make available, without the client’s consent, documents which are covered by legal professional privilege EM10165.