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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 1 Hansard (30 April) . . Page.. 211 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

Providing for a forced entry of residential premises to seize property may also assist in avoiding what is a most undesirable circumstance - that of a judgment debtor having his or her house sold in order to satisfy a judgment debt. Members will remember an unfortunate incident some time ago when a house was sold under a writ of venditioni exponas for a sum considerably less than its real value. While there is no suggestion that allowing the sheriff to make a forced entry to seize property in that case would have made any difference to the outcome, it may be that, in other cases, a forced entry would permit personal property to be seized and sold without the need for the sale of any interest in land. I should stress, however, that, even with the capacity to order a forced entry to seize personal property to satisfy a judgment debt, there will always be cases where the sale of an interest in land is the only possible result. The court, after all, must be able to enforce its judgments and a creditor is entitled to satisfaction. However, allowing the court also to order a forced entry for the purposes of the sale of the premises may result in a better price being obtained at the sale.

Debate (on motion by Mr Stanhope) adjourned.


MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General, Minister for Justice and Community Safety and Minister Assisting the Treasurer) (10.55): Mr Speaker, I present the Magistrates Court (Civil Jurisdiction) (Amendment) Bill 1998, together with its explanatory memorandum.

Title read by Clerk.

MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, I move:

That this Bill be agreed to in principle.

This Bill will replace section 349 of the Magistrates Court (Civil Jurisdiction) Act 1982 with a new section 349 and is, apart from formal matters, the same as the Magistrates Court (Civil Jurisdiction) (Amendment) Bill (No. 2) 1997 which was introduced last December but which lapsed when the Assembly rose without dealing with it. Section 349 provides the Magistrates Court with a power to order a bailiff to make a forced entry of a judgment debtor's premises to seize property to satisfy a judgment debt in circumstances where the judgment debtor has refused entry or cannot be contacted.

The new section 349 will retain this capacity but will extend the Magistrates Court's powers, in that an order will be able to be made for any purposes connected with executing a writ of execution and when either the judgment debtor or another occupier of the premises denies entry or is unable to be contacted. The Bill will also provide specifically for police assistance for a bailiff in forcing an entry and will provide an immunity for a bailiff for acts done or omitted to be done in good faith in carrying out an order of the court.

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