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HMRC internal manual

VAT Business/Non-Business Manual

Specific issues: services provided with the recovery of debts in Scotland

(a) The offices involved

In Scotland a creditor may apply to a court for a decree relating to the recovery of a debt. If the application is granted the court itself takes no part in its execution. It is the creditor’s responsibility to carry out the diligence.

The creditor or their representative will usually employ the services of a Sheriff Officer or Messenger-at-Arms. The representative will normally be a solicitor or debt collector.

The holders of the public offices of Sheriff Officer or Messenger-at-Arms are regarded as having accepted the posts in the course or furtherance of their business. They will normally charge VAT on their services.

(b) Nature of services involved

The Acts of Sederunt allow the expenses of diligence, including VAT, to be recovered from the debtor. However, since the Sheriff Officer or Messenger-at-Arms is regarded as supplying his services to the creditor or their representative the creditor can recover the VAT charged as input tax under the normal rules. If the VAT is reclaimed as input tax by the creditor it will not be necessary to recover it from the debtor.