The Sheriff is the statutory officer appointed to enforce orders of the court. The Sheriff is responsible for the enforcement of all civil processes issued from the Supreme, District and Magistrates Courts of South Australia.

The Sheriff has officers appointed on a contract basis to execute civil processes. Approximately 50 officers serve documents and execute warrants in the metropolitan area. Officers are also appointed to country regions, enabling the Sheriff to enforce orders of the court anywhere in the State.

Pursuant to Section 6 of the Sheriff’s Act, the Sheriff is able to appoint Deputy Sheriffs for the purpose of the day to day management of civil enforcement. Deputy Sheriffs are authorised to appoint Sheriff’s officers to enforce the civil orders issued by the courts; Sheriff’s officers are appointed on a contract.

The Sheriff’s Office also provides a facility for the service of documents anywhere in the State. Any person requiring documents to be served can contact the Sheriff’s Office on telephone +61 8 8204 0155.

When documents are lodged for service, they must be accompanied with the following:

  • A letter providing the Sheriff with instructions to service, the document, any relevant information that will assist serving the documents and an undertaking to pay any fees incurred
  • $100 fees in advance at the time the document is lodged for service

The Sheriff is bound by the Enforcement of Judgments Act, 1991 when executing any order of the court. Section 7 of the act relates to the seizure and sale of property under a warrant of sale. A warrant of sale authorises the Sheriff to seize and sell real or personal property of a judgment debtor to satisfy a judgment debt.

The Sheriff’s Act 1978, outlines the powers of the Sheriff to appoint Deputy Sheriffs and Sheriff’s officers. There will be appointed such Deputy Sheriffs and Sheriff’s officers as are necessary to assist the Sheriff in the performance of his or her duties.

Pursuant to section 8 of the Sheriff’s Act, the Sheriff shall execute or cause to be executed all process, civil or criminal, directed to him by a court. The Sheriff shall observe and carry out any direction of the court.

The Sheriff is also bound by rules of court when serving or executing processes. The rules of court may define the method of service or requirements when undertaking the sale of goods seized.

Registrars of Magistrates Courts are appointed as Deputy Sheriffs and have delegated authority to manage Sheriff’s officers located in their registry on a day to day basis.

Sheriff’s officers in Magistrates Courts are required to serve such documents as an originating summons, investigation summons and examination summons. The Sheriff’s officer must serve the summons on the judgment debtor in accordance with the rule of court and file a proof of service with the court.

Sheriff’s officers also execute warrants issued from the courts. Once judgment has been obtained, the judgment creditor can make application to the court for the issue of a warrant of sale.

he warrant of sale authorises Sheriff’s officers to seize and sell personal and real property of the judgment debtor. All real or personal property seized by Sheriff’s officers pursuant to a warrant of sale is offered for sale by public auction. In all instances the Sheriff must ensure property sold under authority of a court is sold for a fair market value. Upon the sale of real or personal property the judgment debt and costs of sale are deducted from the proceeds and the balance of monies (if any) is refunded to the judgment debtor.

Warrants of sale are executed against personal property prior to proceeding against real property. If good reason exists, the judgment creditor may make application to the court to proceed directly against the debtor’s real property.

If the warrant of sale is returned nil effects against personal property then action can be taken by the Sheriff against any real property owned by the judgment debtor.

Sheriff’s officers are required to execute warrants of arrest and warrants of commitment issued by the court. The Sheriff’s officer is required to arrest the judgment debtor named in the warrant and bring them before the relevant authority.

Civil Enforcement for the Supreme and District Courts of South Australia is managed centrally by the Manger, Enforcement in the Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff’s officers located throughout South Australia can be appointed to execute orders of the Supreme and District Court. The Manager, Enforcement will appoint an officer to execute an order or serve a process based on the defendant’s location.

Sheriff’s officers are required to execute such things as warrants of sale, warrants of arrest and also warrants of possession.

Warrants of sale and warrants of arrest are issued and executed in a similar manner as in the Magistrates Courts. However, the judgments debts are generally much higher in the Supreme and District Courts.

In addition, the Sheriff is required to execute warrants of possession, whereby the Sheriff will hand over vacant possession of land to the plaintiff in the action. This type of process is normally initiated by financial institutions who have a registered mortgage on the land and due to the mortgagor defaulting on payments, proceed to obtain possession of the land to enable the property to be sold.

Sheriff’s enforcement officers are appointed for the service and execution of civil processes throughout the State, including processes issued from interstate, overseas and South Australian courts. In the execution of warrants, pursuant to the orders of the courts, the Sheriff may be required to arrest persons, seize and sell goods or real estate or obtain possession of land.

Admiralty jurisdiction

The Sheriff is also the Marshal in Admiralty and has power to arrest ships pursuant to orders of the Supreme Court sitting in its Admiralty jurisdiction. Such orders may relate to debts for essential ships provisions and bunker fuel. Where necessary, the Marshal may be required to arrange for the sale of ships and cargo.

High Court of Australia

The Sheriff holds an appointment of Marshal for the enforcement of orders issued by the High Court of Australia, within the State of South Australia.

Federal Court of Australia

The Sheriff holds an appointment of Deputy Sheriff of the Federal Court of Australia within South Australia and executes orders of that court.