SCIG01800 - Introduction and organisation: recording information: notes of meeting
Notes of meetings are a vital record of what takes place at them and can be very important at some later stage in the investigation. You should note:
- In cases Conducted under Code of Practice 9, where the taxpayer attends a meeting, you should normally send the notes to the taxpayer (care of the adviser if there is one). You should ask the taxpayer for written confirmation of their agreement to them.
- The same normally applies to Code 8 cases. However where the meeting is only a technical discussion with an in-house taxation department, you need not issue notes for formal agreement unless you want to for a particular reason or the taxpayer/and or adviser requests it.
- All HMRC officers who attend a meeting with a taxpayer should sign and date the notes.
- You should always record any informal conversation you have with a taxpayer (e.g. during a break in a tribunal meeting or at a house visit) and place the note on file. Allegations are sometimes made, long after the event, of improper remarks or action by an investigator in these situations. A contemporaneous note of these conversations is a safeguard.
- It is best to draft and finalise all notes of meetings as quickly as possible after the meeting has ended. If, for any reason, there is a delay in finalising them, you should note the date of the draft as a footnote to the final notes.
- You must retain preliminary, hand-written notes of a meeting or telephone conversation. This is particularly important if the case becomes contentious or is referred to Criminal Investigations.
- You should always date and sign preliminary, hand-written notes so that it is clear who made them and when.
- Final notes may well differ from preliminary notes. It is perfectly proper not to include something noted down in preliminary notes, which later turns out to be unnecessary.
- You must ensure that the final record is a full and fair record of what occurred at the meeting.
- You must not amend final meeting notes. If the taxpayer or adviser suggests changes, you should record these and sign and date them on a separate sheet. If you later believe that the facts are different to the way they have been recorded in the final notes, you should prepare, sign and date a separate note.
- You must not change preliminary manuscript notes made at a meeting.
- There is no place for ‘off the record’ discussions. You must make a note of any ‘without prejudice’ discussions.