SA Introduces Statutes Amendment (Civil Enforcement) Bill 2021

Friday 14 May 2021 @ 12.16 p.m. | Judiciary, Legal Profession & Procedure | Legal Research

On 6 May 2021, the Statutes Amendment (Civil Enforcement) Bill 2021 (SA) (“the Bill”) was introduced to South Australia’s Legislative Council by Treasurer Rob Lucas. The Bill is currently still before the Council.

Purpose of the Bill

The Bill proposes amendments to the following South Australia legislation:

  • Enforcement of Judgments Act 1991 (SA)
  • Sheriff's Act 1978 (SA)

As stated in the Bill summary, the Bill seeks to:

“… implement a number of recommendations of a review undertaken by the Courts Administration Authority into civil enforcement processes in South Australia with the intention of modernising and streamlining civil enforcement procedures in SA, in line with other Australian jurisdictions …”

About the Review

Currently, the Sheriff is the statutory officer appointed to enforce orders of the court and is responsible for the enforcement of all civil processes issued from the Supreme, District and Magistrates Courts of South Australia. The Sheriff is able to appoint Deputy Sheriffs for the purpose of the day-to-day management of civil enforcement. Deputy Sheriffs are also authorised to appoint Sheriff’s officers to enforce the civil orders issued by the courts.

The review was undertaken with an aim to modernise and streamline civil enforcement procedures in South Australia. The review was conducted by a panel, which included representatives of the judiciary, the Courts Administration Authority, the Sheriff's Office, the then President of the Law Society, and the Attorney-General's Department. The panel also included relevant solicitors with expertise in civil enforcement proceedings.Outline of the Proposed Amendments

Amendments under the Bill

Some of the amendments recommended by the review proposed by the Bill includes changes to the Enforcement of Judgments Act 1991 (SA), such as the introduction of investigation notices and garnishee orders. The Bill also seeks to amend section 7 of the Enforcement of Judgments Act 1991 (SA), in regards to seizure and sale property, in order to clarify powers that a Sheriff may exercise in relation to a warrant.

The Bill also proposes the introduction of a new section 9DA to the Sheriff's Act 1978 (SA) in regards to the circumstances under which the Sheriff may be assisted by police officers.

Commenting on the proposed amendments in his second reading speech, the Treasurer said:

“… The amendments in this bill will impact positively on the community's level of confidence in the justice system and its ability to enforce civil court judgements. They will improve outcomes for judgement creditors in being able to recover amounts owed to them after successfully enforcing their rights in court. The amendments will also improve court efficiency in enforcing civil court judgements on behalf of judgement creditors …”

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Statutes Amendment (Civil Enforcement) Bill 2021 (SA) and explanatory materials available on TimeBase's LawOne Service 

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