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HMRC internal manual

National Insurance Manual

Class 2 National Insurance contributions: payments: time limits for paying: ignorance or error and due care and diligence

Ignorance or error

There is no legal definition of the terms ignorance or error so the words must be given their everyday meaning. If there is no ignorance or error then there is no need to go any further and establish due care and diligence.

Due care and diligence

Where it is accepted that the failure to pay is due to ignorance or error then the next step is to consider if the contributor exercised due care and diligence. Take into account:

  • the steps the contributor made to maintain their contribution record
  • if they have previously been warned of the consequences of late payment
  • the contributor’s ability to understand their obligation to pay Class 2 NICs giving consideration to their


  • age
  • health
  • intelligence


An example showing where ignorance or error has been accepted but due care and diligence has not been exercised is demonstrated in the case of Mrs Adedolapo Fehinola Adojutelegan v Derek Clark (Officer of the Board). The Special Commissioners’ Decision: Summary and Commentary can be found at SPC430/04. More information on due care and diligence case law can be found at NIM25032 and NIM25033.

Let the contributor know whether or not the time limits can be extended and/or the contributions can be accepted as paid at an earlier date by issuing a letter giving an opinion. If you are unable to settle the case informally, then issue a formal decision.

The instructions for giving an opinion and making a formal decision are in the Decision and Appeals Guide.