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HMRC internal manual

Statutory Payments Manual

Information Powers - request for information

You can ask for information or documents that you require to find out whether a statutory payment is or was payable.

It should normally be a straightforward matter to demonstrate that the information requested is reasonably required to find out whether a statutory payment is or was payable. However bear in mind that you may need to justify this if you have to seek penalties.

You should aim to identify and ask for all the information that you need at the outset of the case. But it is inevitable that, in some cases, the need for further information will only become apparent as the case progresses.

Each new request for information should be made informally in the first instance and a Formal Notice issued only when the informal approach fails.

‘Documents’ means anything in which information of any description is recorded, including any electronic form of storing information.

You are entitled to see the original document. If the person does not want to hand over original documents into your keeping you should take a certified copy of the original.

You may retain any documents for a reasonable length of time to enable you to complete your enquiry.

Once your enquiry is finished you should return the original document(s). If necessary keep a certified copy with the papers.

If the person requires original document(s) back before your enquiry is finished you should take a certified copy of the original.

Sensitive or private information and Human Rights Act 1998

Sometimes you may need to ask for sensitive or private information.

As with any request for private information you should consider the rights to respect for privacy under Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) as enacted in the Human Rights Act (HRA) before taking any steps to request information or documents see SPM241400, information is also available on the Human Rights site.

You must be satisfied (and be able to justify, if necessary to the First-tier Tribunal) that the information is not only relevant to the case but is also the least intrusive method of effectively resolving the case.

Complaint or enquiry received mentioning Human Rights, see SPM241400

The medical, accountancy and legal professions owe their clients a strict duty of confidentiality. If they break this duty of confidence, they may be subject to a legal action by their clients.

In most statutory payment cases you will probably only need to ask for information from medical or legal professionals acting for either the employee or the employer. You must however ensure to get their client’s permission to release the relevant information.

Further advice

If you need further advice on any of the above, and have exhausted all local knowledge, refer the papers to PT Customer Product and Process, Statutory Payments Technical Team, Room BP1102, Benton Park View, Newcastle upon Tyne.