If there is a judgment that you return certain goods to the plaintiff, you must do so immediately or within the time stated in the judgment. If you do not do this, the plaintiff can apply for a writ for the delivery of goods. This is a court order that directs the sheriff to collect the goods from you (or where they are kept) and return them to the plaintiff.
When the court issues a writ for the delivery of goods, it is sent to the sheriff's office. The sheriff may either come to your property to seize (take) the goods, or contact you first to provide you with the opportunity to get legal advice.
For some people, the first time they find out there is a court claim against them is when the sheriff comes to their home. If you have never received any court papers, or you don't know why the sheriff has come to take goods, you should call the courts call centre on 1300 679 272 and ask for a copy of the statement of claim.
The writ may also include an order that the sheriff seize other goods that belong to you in order to pay for legal costs, for the replacement value of goods, or damages. This is called a 'writ for the levy of property'. For more information, see Responding to a writ for the levy of property.
If the sheriff comes to your home or contacts you, they may give you an opportunity to try and stop the goods being taken. You can consider these options:
Apply for a stay of enforcement.
If you no longer have the goods or they have been damaged or destroyed, you should get legal advice.
Return the goods as ordered in the judgment
You can make arrangements with the other party to return the goods to them. It's best to personally deliver the goods to the other party so that you can be sure they receive them, rather than simply leaving them at an agreed location.
Negotiate with the other party
The other party can tell the sheriff not to proceed with enforcement if you and the other party come to an agreement. The other party may stop the enforcement if you:
For more information, see Negotiating after judgment.
Apply to set aside default judgment
If you did not file a defence and the other party got a default judgment against you, you can apply to the court to set aside the default judgment. In your application, you will need to explain to the court:
what your defence is to the claim.
For more information, see Setting aside a default judgment.
Applying for a stay of enforcement
If you need some time to make the goods available or to pay compensation, damages or costs, you can apply to the court for a temporary order stopping the sheriff taking your property. This is called applying for a stay of enforcement.
For more information, see Stay of enforcement.
You may notice that the amount owed increases depending on how far the sheriff has gone to try to seize and deliver the goods.
When the sheriff first seizes the goods, you may also owe money for:
The sheriff may also seize other property belonging to you, to be sold to pay for the money owing.
The sheriff will charge the other party each time the sheriff tries to execute the Writ and this will be added to the money you owe the other party.