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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71048
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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Is HMRC restricted to not being able to enforce debts over

Customer Question

Is HMRC restricted to not being able to enforce debts over 7 years old?
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.

Thank you for your question . My name is Jo and I will try to help with this.

Unfortunately not. At least, in principle they can enforce civil debts over 6 years old because it is Crown's debt. The practical reality is that the older the debt the less likely anybody can prove it. Delay is the kiss of death to legal action. Evidence becomes lost and memories are affected.

However, if this is a prosecution in the criminals courts or a repayment to avoid one then that is not subject to time barring unfortunately.

Also, if this is one continuous claim for many years then there is an argument that limitation doesn't arise.

I'm very sorry if this is bad news.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Not bad news, but as I am not obliged to keep bank records longer than 7 years I hope that the idea of a debt being ten years will be as difficult to prove for the HMRC as for any body else. I keep asking for details of the payments we have supposed to have received, but get replies that do not address my question. What do you think? Personal opinion, not expert advice

Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.
Yes, it will be.

What they can do in legal theory is very different from what can be done in practice.

You do need to bear in mind that the HMRC are a very powerful creditor and should be your priority if you have any other debts but they will ultimately still need to prove what they allege in court.