Sheriffs and bailiffs - Car crashes

car crash self-help guide logoThe sheriff is an officer of the court, who gets their authority from legislation. The sheriff is responsible for enforcing civil judgments, including warrants and property (seizure and sale) orders. They also serve documents on behalf of the court or the parties when requested.

The sheriff usually appoints a number of bailiffs throughout WA, who can carry out the sheriff's role on their behalf.

Once enforcement action has started, the sheriff or bailiffs will not stop or suspend enforcement action until the judgment debt is paid in full, unless directed to do so by the judgment creditor or the court.

Powers of entry

Under a property (seizure and sale) order, the sheriff can:

  • enter any place where they believe on fair grounds there is or may be personal property that may be seized under the order, and
  • use any force or assistance that is reasonably necessary in the circumstances.

If the property seized is house and land, the sheriff must first seek the consent of the occupier. If consent is unreasonably withheld, or the sheriff is unable to contact the occupier or owner, the sheriff may force entry to the property between 9 am and 5 pm.

Obstructing the sheriff or bailiff

It is a criminal offence to hinder or stop the seizure of property by removing, hiding, retaining or disposing of those items. The offence is punishable by fines or imprisonment. To avoid being charged with a criminal offence, it is important judgment debtors cooperate with sheriffs and bailiffs and do not obstruct them from doing their job.

What if the property taken belongs to someone else?

A person other than the judgment debtor who has a claim to goods seized by the sheriff can apply to the court to have them returned. This is called an interpleader.

To make an interpleader application, complete and lodge a Form 28 Notice of claim against property seized.

If the claim is accepted by the judgment creditor, the sheriff will release the seized property. If the judgment creditor disputes a claim, the bailiff must apply to the court to determine who owns the property.

 

Useful documents

Magistrates Court of WA

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The information displayed on this page is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have a legal problem, you should see a lawyer. Legal Aid Western Australia aims to provide information that is accurate, however does not accept responsibility for any errors or omissions in the information provided on this page or incorporated into it by reference.