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A warrant of execution is an order to the bailiff to seize and sell goods or land of the defendant debtor to satisfy the judgment debt unless the amount in the warrant is paid. A creditor can apply for such a warrant to the Registrar of the court in which the judgment was entered at any time without leave within 6 years after judgment. This is done by preparing and filing the warrant for the registrar to sign, seal and deliver to the bailiff. A warrant remains in force for twelve months from the date of its issue. After 6 years the leave of the court is needed to issue a warrant, unless there has been some payment into court under the judgment within the previous 12 months.

The delivery of a warrant to the bailiff binds the debtor’s goods so they are available to satisfy the judgment debt. This means the debtor cannot dispose of them, and if he or she does, the goods can be followed and seized (subject to the rights of a bona fide purchaser for value with no notice of the warrant). However, in order to bind the debtor’s interest in land held under the provision of the Land Titles Act 1980 (Tas) it is necessary for the warrant to be recorded by the Recorder of Titles on the copy of the title kept at the Land Titles Office. Once that is done the warrant binds the land but only for three months (section 61, Land Titles Act (Tas)). See the contact section for contact details for the Land Titles Office.

To execute a warrant a bailiff generally goes to the defendant’s house and explains that if the debtor does not pay the amount on the warrant his or her goods or land will have to be seized and auctioned to pay off the debt. Generally, bailiffs are reasonable and will allow the defendant a short time to get the money or negotiate a repayment arrangement with the creditor. Of course, if the defendant has no money or goods, the bailiff can do nothing.

In Tasmania, a warrant is a very common first port of call for creditors in order to persuade the judgment debtor to pay or come to some arrangement with the creditor. A debtor should be careful not to be frightened into hasty arrangements for payment that cannot be afforded.

Payment of the judgment debt can be made to the bailiff at any time, even after goods have been seized, provided they have not yet been sold. On paying the debt the sale is stopped and the goods returned. If the debtor pays the judgment debt after the goods have been seized, the debtor will have to pay any costs of seizing, advertising and arranging for sale. Even if nothing has been seized, the debtor will have to pay the costs of the warrant.

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