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HMRC internal manual

Enquiry Manual

Working the Enquiry: Meetings: Presence of an Agent

If the taxpayer has an agent he or she should be invited to attend any meeting. It should only proceed without the agent if he or she has declined to attend, or the taxpayer is adamant that he or she wishes to proceed without the agent.

If the taxpayer calls unannounced, and wishes to discuss any substantive matter, you should point out the advantages of having the agent present during any discussion. Should the taxpayer wish to proceed, you should tell the agent as soon as possible that the meeting has occurred and the substance of what was said, unless the taxpayer does not want you to do so.

When an agent is present, he or she may try to answer questions on the client’s behalf. You should not allow this to happen - you need to hear what the taxpayer has to say. Tell the agent firmly but courteously, that whilst you appreciate that he or she is there to protect their client’s interests, the purpose of the meeting is to hear from the taxpayer directly. It is only the taxpayer who has the necessary first hand knowledge.

However, this does not mean that you should stop the agent from asking the taxpayer to clarify any answer given to you.