New South Wales Sheriff History

New South Wales

Historical Development and Present Day Functions Of The Sheriff Of New South Wales To appreciate the functions of the sheriff, as we know that Officer today, we must first examine the historical background of the Office itself and trace, as far and as accurately as we can, its origin, for it is the most ancient Office known to English law, excepting that of the King. We can trace the Office with precision for a thousand years or thereabouts.

Under Anglo Saxon administration, the dignitary next in importance to the King was the Ealdorman (also referred to as the Earl of the Country) who was invested with civil as well as military pre-eminence. King Alfred the Great divided England into Counties for the better administration of justice – a division incidentally, which has virtually continued to this day. Each division or part became known as a soire (shire) to which was appointed a reeve (meaning overseer). Hence, we got the title soire-reeve and eventually Sheriff.

Halsbury Laws of England under the heading “Sheriff” states:

"As conservator of the King’s peace, it is the duty of the Sheriff to suppress unlawful assemblies and riots, to apprehend offenders and to defend his county against invasion by the King’s enemies, for which purpose he may take with him the posse comitatus.

In former times it was the Sheriff’s duty to pursue and arrest felons and for that purpose to raise the hue and cry.

Legally every person in a county is still bound to be ready at the command of the Sheriff and at the cry of the country to arrest a felon”.

The Office of Sheriff was first established in Australia by the Charter of Justice in 1824, which provided for the appointment of a Chief Justice, a Sheriff and a Prothonotary. These were for the area known as New South Wales which at that time embodied most of the eastern half of Australia but excluded Van Dieman’s Land. We thus had three offices created – Judicial, Executive and Administrative, respectively.

Prior to 1824, the duties of the Sheriff were performed by the Provost-Marshall of the Colony.

The Charter of Justice replaced the system of Courts suited to a penitentiary with a system modelled on the Superior Courts at Westminster.

The office of Sheriff was not immediately established in the new colony when the first fleet arrived in 1788. Its uncertain existence as a penal colony lent itself to the establishment of an office of a military nature, an officer called Provost Marshal.

George Alexander was appointed provost marshal to sail with the First Fleet. However, Alexander declined to take up his office and therefore Governor Arthur Phillip was obliged to hastily find a replacement in a midshipman, Harry Brewer. The post of provost marshal seems to have assumed an aggregate of duties, as befitted the dire situation that the early colony found itself merely to survive on the sandy soil of Sydney Cove. Governor Phillip described Brewer as “a very useful person who acts as Provost Martial … who likewise superintends the different works going on”. Notice that Brewer “acted” as Provost Marshal, rather than filling that role as his occupation.

Brewer was forced to give up his office through ill health and Governor Hunter replaced him with a Marine Corps man, Thomas Smyth. Smyth evidently served the infant colony well for upon his death, the Sydney Gazette commented that he “was uniformly respected for his humanity in acquitting himself of the duties of his office; the generosity and benevolence of his heart; the affability of his manners and the placidity of his disposition”.

Smyth’s term of office exposed a problem that was to hamper the Sheriff’s performance of his office until the middle of that century: the liability of the office for errors in execution of the Court’s orders. The Colonial Office would typically indemnify the Provost Marshal and the Sheriff with respect to actions against him but nonetheless the prospect of actions did pose a burden to Sheriffs until being altered by legislation in 1843. The careers of the early Sheriffs were pursued within this worrisome context and caused difficulties in finding an appropriate incumbent for the office.

Graham Blaxcell succeeded Smyth, followed by William Gore, who arrived in 1806 bearing the King’s commission as colonial Provost Marshal. Gore was apparently unable to satisfactorily perform his duties. He quickly ran into financial difficulties, caused at least in part by the low salary attached to the position and the needs of his large family. Gore himself was imprisoned for debt, although he did manage to escape from custody. But escape was to no avail, since the member of the Supreme and Governor’s courts accused him of submitting false returns and of conducting his duties in a “tardy, oppressive and inefficient manner”. The judges recommended his removal, which the Governor did, and the Colonial Office confirmed the decision.

Governor Macquarie’s secretary, John Thomas Campbell, became the new Provost Marshal. At the same time, the salary of the Provost Marshal was reduced, a decision which on the face of it, could only enhance the probability of further difficulties of the type encountered under the incumbency of William Gore. Commissioner Bigge, appointed in 1819 to conduct a review of judicial administration in New South Wales, commented that the reduction was too severe “considering the responsibility of the office…, and the difficulty of finding competent persons in New South Wales to perform the subordinate duties with integrity”.

Commissioner Bigge’s Report formed the basis for the so called “New South Wales Act”, 4 Geo.IV c.96, which authorised the King by letters patent to constitute, inter alia, a Supreme Court (s. 1) and defined the duties of various court officials, including “the Sheriff and other ministerial officers” (s. 17). The letters patent became known as the third Charter of Justice and gave some definition to the Sheriff’s role, hitherto largely undefined.

James Stephen, jnr., of the Colonial Office , was the man behind the drafting of the legal reforms for New South Wales. He was the first British Government official to give serious thought to exactly what was the ambit of the Provost Marshal’s duties. Stephen was aware that throughout the colony it was felt that the title, Provost Marshal, possessed unacceptable military connotations. Stephen proposed to solve this problem by the appointment of Sheriff, whose functions were to be “exactly analogous to those of the Sheriff in the English counties”. This was indeed a most senior status, since the Sheriff was second only in an English county to the Lord Lieutenant.

The status conceived of by Stephen was to cause the early Sheriffs a frequently awkward relationship with the Governor, since in the terms of Stephen’s plan, it was arguable that he was answerable only to the Supreme Court.

Stephen’s plan gave the Sheriff’s duties as falling into three categories: criminal; civil and revenue matters. In criminal proceedings, he was responsible for the custody of all persons charged until trial, remitting a return to the Supreme Court on the first day of every term of all prisoners held. He was to carry into execution any sentence, including capital sentences (see the section on the Sheriff and the Sentence of Death), pronounced by the Court. In civil matters his task was to serve all process that required an appearance in court; arrest those to be held on bail, and levy execution on the goods and lands of those who failed to satisfy the judgment of the court. His revenue function required him to superintend all inquiries concerning Crown property, seize escheated property, and to preside at inquests relating to damage to public domains.

Stephen intended that the Sheriff also discharge the duties of Coroner, but in practice this never occurred. The Sheriff did however assume the role of Admiralty marshal.

Earl Bathurst, Secretary of State for the Colonies, wrote to Governor Brisbane on 22 January, 1824, announcing the appointment of John Mackaness as the first Sheriff and affirmed Stephen’s ideas of the role of the office, “not as an accurate specification of the duties to be executed by the individual, but merely as a general summary for your guidance”.

The third Charter itself did not greatly assist in giving further detail. The Charter stated that:-

The said Sheriff and his successors shall, by themselves or their sufficient deputies (to be by them appointed and duly authorised under their respective hands and seals, and for whom he and they shall be responsible during his or their continuance in such office) execute, and the said Sheriff and his said deputies are hereby authorised to execute all the Writs, Summonses, Rules, Orders, Warrants, commands, and Process of the Supreme Court of New South Wales; and to receive and detain in prison all such persons as shall be committed to the custody of such Sheriff by the said Supreme Court … or by the chief justice of the said Court.

Under Section 11 of the Charter, the Governor was empowered to appoint the Sheriff. The Sheriff was required to take an oath of allegiance before the Governor and to hold office for twelve months. If a vacancy was created before the twelve month term expired, the Governor would make another appointment for the remainder of that year of service. In New South Wales the twelve month appointment was typically renewed annually.

The Governor’s power of appointment under Section 11 was balanced by a link allowing possible direction from the Colonial Office. The section required the Governor, when making his selection, to “conform himself to such directions as may from time to time be given in that behalf by us, our Heirs and Successors, through one of our or their Principal Secretaries of State”. This requirement was to so qualify the Governor’s power of appointment that the section was later tested by litigation (see discussion of Ex parte Chung below).

The first appointee, John Mackaness (1824-1827) attained his position through the recommendation of the then Chief Justice of the King’s Bench. The origins of this recommendation, together with the view of James Stephen of the parity of the office with a High Sheriff in England (which he well knew), led Mackaness into conflict with Governor Darling. Mackaness defended himself in the following terms in a letter to the Governor:

“Mr Lord Bathurst’s instructions … were that I should on all occasions act as I would do, if I was Sheriff of an English county. I may perhaps, in your Excellency’s opinion, have too strictly adhered to these instructions … As a Sheriff of an English county is responsible only to His Majesty’s Court of King’s Bench, I have certainly considered myself only answerable to the Supreme Court. Had my Lord Bathurst instructed me to have followed your Excellency’s instructions as Governor of the Colony, I would cheerfully have obeyed them, and I should have been relieved from much anxiety and responsibility in modelling the duties of a Sheriff of an English county to the state and condition of this colony”.

Mackaness’ impudence had not gone unnoted. Chief Justice Forbes described Mackaness “as a good natured man, but sometimes a little misguided in his views of his office; he supposes himself to be here exactly what the Sheriff of a county is in England … I think Mackaness has taken a wrong view of his office and his obligations”. The Colonial Office had already reprimanded Mackaness (at the time of his defence of the position above) for having assumed in his correspondence with the Governor “a style…according so little with that respect, which is due to His Majesty’s Representative from all those officers who may fill employments under the Crown”.

There were two further sources of conflict between Mackaness and the Governor. Firstly, Mackaness showed an aversion to superintend the jail. The Supreme Court did make rules on this point that may have to an extent favoured Mackaness, but the Colonial Office disallowed the rules because of their consequences for the public expenditure. Mackaness managed to mostly resist this responsibility that the Governor sought to attribute to him, but subsequent Sheriffs did take up these duties at the direction of the Governor.

The Sheriff therefore found himself between three sources of authority: the Supreme Court in relation to judicial proceedings (and in accord with his aspired status analogous to the English High Sheriff); the Governor (whom he depended upon for the renewal of his yearly term); and thirdly, the Colonial Secretary, in respect of the superintendence of the prisons.

Mackaness was to discover the importance of the second of these when Governor Darling allowed Mackaness’ term to lapse at the end of 1827. Mackaness particularly incurred the Governor’s displeasure for his participation in politics. Mackaness often accepted invitations to chair contentious public meetings and his sympathies for emancipists became well know. Governor Darling viewed such behaviour as disloyalty and “general conduct which has been highly unbecoming an officer of the Government”.

Mackaness’s temporary replacement was William Carter (1828), Master of the Supreme Court. Carter laboured under a disadvantage from the outset: he had made a foe of Chief Justice Forbes, who, while tolerating Carter as Master, saw no reason to do so as Sheriff. Carter was faced with an enormous workload and was obliged to be in attendance before the Court from its sitting to its rising. This left him little time for his other duties, with the result that they had to be delegated to the Under Sheriff, who would often show insufficient attention to this job. Carter, like his predecessors, also encountered the ever present threat of personal liability for work that he was forced to delegate. In his temporary term, Carter had sixteen actions brought against him for actions done in his name. On one occasion for example, he incurred a one hundred pound debt and costs when he was unable to prove service in Newcastle of process that had been conveyed by boat. These sorts of logistical problems were not overcome until the introduction of the Jury Trial Act in 1841, empowering the Governor to appoint district Sheriffs.

Carter made clear to the Governor his own appreciation of the difficulties of the position, stating that:-

“I solemnly declare that if the Office of the Sheriff was offered to me tomorrow, I would not accept it with a salary less than two thousand pounds per annum … When the accounts of my office are finally closed, my losses or expenses as Sheriff will be not less than four hundred pounds ($800), or, in other words, I shall have received six hundred pounds ($1200) instead of one thousand pounds ($2000) for the performance of a high, most painful and most responsible public situation”.

The appointment of Thomas Macquoid (1829-1841) as the permanent Sheriff marked the beginning of a term that was to bring to the fore all the problems associated with the office that had hitherto manifested themselves at different times: low salary; indeterminate status; personal liability for actions, whether performed by him or his Under Sheriff; and excessive workload. Macquoid’s period of office was plagued with controversy, ended with tragedy and prompted significant legislative change to properly delineate the Office of the Sheriff.

Macquoid began his term with the benefit of experience as Sheriff in India. He soon found that the vast resources of the British Raj were by no means attended upon the Office in the penal colony of New South Wales. To make matters worse, the colony was rife with litigation and bankruptcy proceedings. By February of 1829, the year he took up office, in excess of 700 summonses had been issued to be served. Macquoid had the dubious benefit of assistance of only the Under Sheriff and a prisoner who served as clerk. The nature of the Office’s work implied that he and his Under Sheriff were frequently absent attending to court process, leaving the public to deal with the convict clerk. Macquoid did manage to address this last intolerable situation by convincing the government to appoint a trained and experienced clerk.

Macquoid quickly seized upon the uncertain nature of his public status within the colony. He did not enjoy a seat in the Legislative Council, a position which he had been led to believe would be almost automatic. Macquoid was also aggrieved by his omission from the colonial table of precedence, claiming that he should rank next below the judges. Macquoid wrote to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, Sir George Murray, in the following terms:-

“Considering the high rank in his County, which the Constitution confers on the ancient office of Sheriff, and the place in society which that officer has heretofore held in this colony, I feel justified in presuming that his name not appearing in the List of Precedency has been occasioned rather by inadvertence, or perhaps from an idea that the order of precedence in England has sufficiently defined his rank than from any intention to lessen his respectability. But as unpleasant doubts may arise hereafter, it cannot be viewed otherwise than as a point of honourable and natural ambition with me that the office should not in my hands be permitted to deteriorate or sink into insignificance”.

Macquoid’s appeal met with favour from governor Darling. He assured Sir George Murray that “he is a person of experience, and his character and deportment are such as cannot fail to make a very useful impression on the community”. The Colonial Office decided that the Sheriff should rank next after members of the Legislative Council in colonial precedence, at the bottom of the express list.

The Colonial Office was less amenable to Macquoid’s representations for a higher salary, although again receiving Darling’s support. Certainly the workload seemed to warrant a salary increase; writs increased by fourfold between 1825 and 1829; and monies derived had increased tenfold. There had also been a substantial increase in executing the death sentence. Macquoid put his difficulties to the Colonial office in the following manner:-

“The constant and necessary attendance which the Sheriff is obliged to give either in person or by deputy in the courts when sitting; the insecurity of the gaols, unavoidable in the present state of the colony; the great and daily increasing extent of, it may be said, undefined territory, over which the population is very thinly spread, rendering more difficult and hazardous, from the character of the inhabitants than in any European country; the due execution of the court’s process; the late Jury Bill which imposes new and onerous duties on the Sheriff; and the late establishment of the Circuit Courts; all of which obviously must increase the Sheriff’s responsibility or add to his present duties”.

Macquoid encountered the familiar difficulty of personal liability for inappropriate conduct, although he was able to successfully rely upon the colonial Treasury to indemnify him for his or his employees’ errors. By 1832 such indemnities amounted to six hundred and eighty pounds ($1,360) resulting from his unlawful detention of persons thought to be escaped convicts from the Swan River. Governor Bourke was critical of this aspect of Macquoid’s discharge of his duty and for leaving so much of his responsibilities in the hands of his deputy.

Governor Gipps’ views led to the erosion of the careful steps that Macquoid had taken to establish his statues in the colony. Gipps felt that the Sheriff enjoyed an unduly high place in the order of precedence, but should rather rank below the Attorney General, notwithstanding that “the office of Sheriff may perhaps be considered one of more importance in New South Wales than in any other colony, not only on account of the extent of our prisons, but also of the greater number of criminals, who unfortunately incur the extreme penalty of the law”.

Lord Glenelg, then Secretary of State for the Colonies, finally resolved the matter in a despatch to Governor Gipps:

“The title of Sheriff, though adopted in New South Wales as the most appropriate which could be found for describing the duties of the officer who bears it, is still in certain respects inapplicable. It was never designed to place him in the position or to delegate to him all the duties or to invest him with the rank of the High Sheriff in an English County. The corresponding office in a large proportion of the other colonies is designated by the title of Provost Marshal, to which, however, objection having been made on the ground of its apparent relation to military, rather than to civil duties, the term Sheriff was substituted in the New South Wales Charter of Justice. But, the Sheriff of that Colony, being never designed to occupy any other place than that of the Executive Officer of the Court, it would be attended with much practical inconvenience to ascribe to him an official rank, which might be supposed to recognise pretensions of a different kind”.

This final statement of the position of Sheriff must have greatly distressed Macquoid, who strenuously protested to the Colonial Office, but to no avail. Macquoid’s position was further worsened by financial concerns of his own tied to his office. Macquoid lapsed into a state of depression and serious insolvency, committing suicide in October 1841.

When the affairs of Macquoid were examined it was discovered that there was a serious discrepancy in the fees that should have been held by his Office. There should have been a total of three thousand seven hundred and forty three pounds ($7,486) instead there was just 9d(8c). The reasons for Macquoid’s dramatic departure from his office then became more clear. The Supreme Court Judges were themselves very embarrassed, since they were responsible for checking the account books. To make matters worse, Macquoid had failed to lodge the one thousand pounds ($2,000) security for the discharge of his duties. The Governor was extremely critical of the Judges’ failure to properly inspect the Sheriff’s books. The Governor determined that the Judges should be personally responsible for the discrepancy. Macquoid’s insolvency, his failure to give the prescribed security for the due discharge of his duties and the controversy regarding his status prompted legislative change. “An Act for regulating the Appointment and Duties of Sheriff in New South Wales” became law on 8th December, 1843.

The principal elements were:-

  • (i) Section 1 – the Sheriff should henceforth be appointed by the Governor and hold his office during his pleasure, not from year to year. This section repealed the Charter of Justice requirement that the Governor heed instructions from the Colonial Office as to appointments.

Section 1 also provided that the Sheriff could appoint a Deputy or Under Sheriff to coincide with his own term of office.

The Supreme Court further clarified the status of the Under Sheriff in R v. Lang in 1851, when Dickinson J. stated the “The law of England has declared that where the Sheriff is appointed for one year, the Deputy’s appointment is coexistent with the Sheriff’s … The Under-Sheriff [in New South Wales] is nothing more than the Sheriff’s Deputy”.

  • (ii) Section 2 provided that Supreme Court Judges could direct the execution of process by a special bailiff. The Sheriff bore no responsibility for the conduct of the special bailiff. This provision further lightened the Sheriff’s liability addressed in Section 3.
  • (iii) Section 3 released the Sheriff from some of the burden of personal liability, stating that the Sheriff was to be liable only in damages should a debtor in execution escape from custody. Prior to the Act, the Sheriff had been liable for the amount of the debt owed by the defaulter as well as for damages.
  • (iv) Section 5 aimed to avoid the insolvency left by Macquoid, stating that the Sheriff, by bond or recognizance, must give security for the due performance of his duties in such a sum as the government may prescribe.

Following the temporary appointment of a barrister, William Hustler (1842), to the Sheriff’s position, a permanent appointee was found in Adolphus William Young (1843-1849). Young proved to be a thorn in the side of both the Governor and the Colonial Office. He attained election to the Legislative Council and used this forum to enunciate his independent views, which were often at variance with those of Governor Gipps. The Secretary of State for the Colonies made it clear that if Young refused to support the Governor in the Council, he would have to give up his office as Sheriff. Young obliged by resigning from Council. Young continued until November 1849, when his accounts were questioned by the British Treasury. Young had found his duties onerous and “everywhere of an invidious and responsible character … attended with peculiar and unusual difficulties”. Despite this impression, and his own independently minded activities in the Legislative Council, Young must have performed his duties well, since upon his resignation he received from the Judges of the Supreme Court very warm commendations for his “integrity, discretion and ability”.

Gilbert Elliot replaced Young for an uneventful term between 1849 and 1854, before the Governor appointed John O’Neil Brenan (1855-1861). Brenan’s term marked the last significant clarification of the position of Sheriff relative to the British Government. Brenan lost favour with the government, and the Colonial Secretary removed him from office in 1861.

The Governor-in-Council appointed his successor, George Richard Uhr, on 17 April 1861 (1861-1864). The authority for Uhr’s appointment was contested by a prisoner whose very life depended upon it. A writ of habeas corpus was issued on behalf of a prisoner under sentence of death, alleging that the Governor had no authority to appoint Uhr, since the legislation vesting the Governor-in-Council with appointment powers of all public officers – the New South Wales Constitution Act – had no operation on existing offices. In the ensuing court case, Ex Parte Chung, the Supreme Court held that the Governor possessed the authority to appoint or remove the Sheriff, and that the Crown had no role in the matter.

The introduction of responsible government to the colony brought a stability to the hitherto sometimes troubled history of the Office of Sheriff. The Governor’s power to appoint or remove the Sheriff had been clearly affirmed; the status of the Office made clear, and with it the particular character of the New South Wales Sheriff began to assume an identity less bound to its not altogether analogous origins in England. Subsequent Sheriffs are:-

  • Harold Maclean. «‹›» 1864 – 1874
  • Charles Cowper, jnr. «‹›» 1874 – 1896
  • Cecil Edmunds Bridgewater Maybury. «‹›» 1896 – 1917
  • Charles Richard Walsh. «‹›» 1917 – 1920
  • Walter William Crockford. «‹›» 1920 – 1925
  • George Francis Murphy. «‹›» 1925 – 1939
  • Harry Charles Lester. «‹›» 1939 – 1945
  • Roland Oliver Elliott. «‹›» 1945 – 1960
  • Donald Mercer Richardson. «‹›» 1960 – 1968
  • Thomas Alexander Woodward. «‹›» 1968 – 1974
  • George Francis Hanson. «‹›» 1974 – 1985
  • David Michael Lennon. «‹›» 1985 – 1997
  • Nerida Johnston. «‹›» 1997-1998
  • Bruce Kelly. «‹›» 1998-2002
  • Kenneth Holdgate. «‹›» 2002-2003
  • Gary Byles. «‹›» 2003-date

The Sheriff’s powers relative to criminal proceedings has waned since responsible government and the introduction of a Police Service. The appointment of a comptroller-general of prisons in 1874 ended the Sheriff’s responsibility for jails, excepting his carrying out of capital punishment, which remained his responsibility until it was abolished (see the section on the Sheriff and Capital Punishment). The Sheriff’s responsibilities in the civil jurisdiction of the courts remain intact. The Sheriff’s Office is required to serve summonses and enforce orders and writs of the Supreme Court, District Court and the Local Courts of New South Wales as well as the courts of the Commonwealth. The Sheriff is also the Marshal in Admiralty and as such has the responsibility for the arrest of ships under the admiralty laws of the country (this appointment reflects the importance maritime trade has always had in this country).

The other current duties of the Sheriff are the administration of the jury system and security and court orderly services in the courts.

The Sheriff holds a Commission from the Governor and is obliged to act with independence and impartiality. The Office enforces the orders of the court and in so doing, Sheriff’s Officers come into contact with all sections of the community. In enforcing the law they often witness the seedy and sometimes tragic side of life.

In performing their duties, they must be resolute but also compassionate to those members of the community who are desperate and in need of assistance. Often, it is the Sheriff’s Officer who is the first official which a defendant comes into contact with and while an Officer’s principal responsibility is to enforce the court’s order, assistance and guidance is often given to the defendant, to the benefit of all concerned.

The duties of the Sheriff is one means by which society regulates its members and maintains equity and control.

Enforcing the courts’ orders is not always a simple procedure as was evidenced in October, 1855 when the Sheriff of N.S.W. was required to serve a writ on the famous actress, dancer and courtesan, Lola Montez. A recent newspaper article described her as the loveliest and most unscrupulous woman since Cleopatra.(Daily Telegraph Mirror 7 June, 1991)

Lola had just finished a widely successful season in Sydney when she decided that she no longer needed half her company. These players and singers then took court proceedings against her in order that they would not be stranded in Sydney. When given the writ claiming $4,000 for breach of contract, the Sheriff’s Officer responsible for the execution was informed that the defendant was aboard a ship which was steaming down the harbour bound for Melbourne. Showing great determination, the Officer commandeered a launch and boarded the ship before it had left the harbour.

On being served with the writ, Lola Montez displayed her fiery temper when she wrenched off her gown, under which she wore nothing at all, and threw her head back in a melodramatic fashion.

“Pig”, she cried, “if you take Lola Montez back to Sydney, you must take her as she is”.

The Sheriff’s Officer appealed to the Captain for assistance but he declined to assist. The Officer then attempted to escort the defendant off the shop but she slapped his face and raked his cheek with her long nails. At that stage, the Officer decided that discretion was the better part of valour and decided that he could not drag the naked woman onto the launch and then through the busy streets of Sydney to the Sheriff’s Office. It would seem that this was one of those rate occasions when the Sheriff’s Officer did not enforce the order of the court.

The establishment of the Sheriff’s Office is 220 Sheriff’s Officers; 170 Court Officers: and 42 administrative personnel. These are located in 65 Centres throughout the State and during the twelve months ended 30 June, 1991, Sheriff’s Officers in New South Wales served 83,764 summonses; enforced 97,688 orders and writs; and in enforcing these orders and writs, recovered $18,412,762. During that same period, 214, 932 persons were summoned for jury duty.

N.S.W. has an area of 802,000 square kilometres with a population (June 1990) of 5,827,000. (Australia: 7,682,000 square kilometres – population 17,085,000) – Australian Bureau of Statistics 1991.


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