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The Human Rights Act and penalties

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Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights (HRA) gives you certain rights when we’re considering whether to charge certain types of penalties.

We’ll ask you to read this factsheet if we believe these rights may apply to you and we need your help to work out whether we may need to charge you a penalty.

This factsheet is one of a series. For the full list of factsheets in the series, go to and search for ‘Compliance checks factsheets’.

What your rights under Article 6 mean for you when we are considering penalties

We always welcome your co-operation with our compliance check and in establishing the right liabilities, including whether any penalties may be due. The extent to which you co-operate with us and provide us with information is entirely your choice.

When we’re considering penalties you’ve the right under Article 6 not to answer our questions. This is sometimes called the right not to self-incriminate or the right to silence. This right doesn’t cover information or documents that already exist. This means that you must give us the information or documents that already exist, if we’ve a legal right to ask for them.

In making a decision about how much you’re going to co-operate with us, you’ve the right to get help from a professional adviser. If you don’t already have an adviser, you may want to consider consulting one.

You’ve the right to have the matter of penalties dealt with without unreasonable delay. We’ll normally tell you whether any penalties are due once we’ve agreed the tax position with you. If we cannot agree the tax position, we’ll send you an amendment or assessment of any additional tax we believe is due. If we consider that a penalty is also due, we’ll send you an assessment of the penalty, based on the additional tax.

If we charge you a penalty, you’ve the right to ask for a review or to appeal. You also have the right

to ask for your review or appeal against both the tax and the penalty decisions to be considered together. Our factsheet HMRC1, 'HM Revenue and Customs decisions – what to do if you disagree', explains what to do if you want to ask for a review, or to appeal. You can find more information about tribunals on the tribunal's website. Go to service/about

You’ve the right to apply for publicly funded legal assistance or Legal Aid. In some circumstances, funding may be available to help you bring certain appeals before the tribunal. If you’re going to appeal against a penalty assessment, you may want to check whether your case qualifies and the type of help that may be available. We’ve no involvement in decisions about if your case will qualify. You can find details of where to get information below.

If there’s anything you don’t understand about these rights or what they mean for you, please tell the officer who is dealing with the compliance check straightaway.

Funded legal assistance

You can find out more details about funded legal assistance or Legal Aid in:

or by phoning 0131 226 7061

  • Northern Ireland by contacting a solicitor who’s a member of the Law Society of Northern Ireland – Go to

You can also get more details from Citizens Advice or you can apply for funded legal assistance or Legal Aid through a solicitor anywhere in the UK.